FRAMINGHAM (CBS) — New York National Guard Sgt. Josenia Figueroa says she still can’t believe Celtics guard Kyrie Irving gave her his game jersey after the team’s 13th straight win Tuesday.
“It was so unreal,” Sgt. Figueroa told WBZ-TV Thursday. “Obviously, for anyone who has seen the video, my expression says it all, I couldn’t believe it.”
She and other members of her unit recently returned from a deployment to Kuwait and were attending the Celtics-Nets game for Military Appreciation Night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Sgt. Figueroa’s family, all Celtics fans, are from Framingham. She was keeping in touch with them throughout the game.
She and three other soldiers were sitting higher up in the stands, when someone she didn’t know offered them four tickets.
“Originally we had our seats, and some gentleman walked up and he asked us if we wanted four tickets,” she said. “We decided to take them and move forward to the front, not knowing we would actually be courtside.”
She grabbed a friend who was trying to get Irving’s autograph for her sister, and went down.
“We were right up front, we just enjoyed the moment,” she said.
She says she still can’t believe what happened next.
“At some point, one of the soldiers that was with me, the woman who actually received the sneakers, she exchanged eye contact with him,” Sgt. Figueroa said. “At this time, I’m just Facetiming with my family back in Framingham, and all of a sudden he gives us this ‘give us one sec’ sign, and next thing you know… that’s where everyone sees in the video, that’s when he walks up to us and he actually gives us the jersey and the sneakers.”
“When he pointed to his shoes, I was like, ‘No way, he’s not going to give us his shoes and his jersey.’ I still can’t believe it,” she continued.
She said Irving shook the soldiers’ hands and thanked them for their service, handing his jersey to her and his shoes to another soldier.
Walking out of the arena, Sgt. Figueroa said, people kept coming up to the soldiers asking if they could see and touch the game-worn apparel. When she realized she didn’t get the jersey autographed, a Barclays employee led her back inside, where Irving signed it for her.
She said she plans to give the jersey to her son.
“He’s going to be six years old, he’s a baby, but it was the moment of his first basketball game,” she said. “For him to experience that with me, I think that’s something he can hold onto.”