The chosen one
Ten-year-old Ronan Raphael Padriga wanted to wear his LeBron James jersey to the Witness History Tour but couldn’t. He had worn it just two days before, in an exhibition game.
“I need to wear red or black, Mom, Miami Heat colors,” he told his mother Ruth Padriga, head writer for the ABS-CBN show “Showtime.” She dug around their attic and found a red shirt for him.
It was almost a miracle that Ronan would be able to see LeBron James live. When he first heard that the NBA superstar was coming, he asked his mom if they could watch him. When they found out that the only way to get tickets was to line up at Nike Park in Bonifacio Global City, their family driver offered to do it.
He took the day off, lined up as early as five in the morning and kept Ronan’s mom updated. “At one point, he said, sure na, kasama siya sa last 100 to get tickets. Pero when I called again, one ticket left daw. Tapos, wala na. Naubos yung tickets. At 10 p.m., he left empty-handed,” said Ruth.
Refusing to give up, Ruth asked her niece Dianne, also a LeBron fan, to search for tickets online. But they were not about to pay exorbitant scalper prices.
Big LeBron fan
He may be only 10 but Ronan has been a LeBron James fan since the NBA cager’s Cleveland Cavaliers days. Ronan said, “LeBron is a good shooter and has cool, dazzling dunks.”
Ronan was in school during the 2013 NBA Finals, when LeBron and the rest of Miami Heat battled the San Antonio Spurs, so the Ateneo student went to the library during recess to get updates and watch clips of the game.
He doesn’t just enjoy watching basketball, he plays, too. Ronan said, “I love basketball, it keeps me from being bored. I always learn something new. It’s more fun to play than other sport I’ve tried. Basketball makes me happy.”
His mom said, “He started training when he was six. He really enjoys doing it. He hopes to join the Ateneo Blue Eagles one day.” His parents happily support his passion, encouraging his love of basketball. For his birthday in February, they gifted him with a pair of LeBron’s Nike basketball shoes.
He is a true LeBron fan—a big fan—so it was understandable that Ronan was sad to still be without tickets the night before the event. His mom said, “Naluluha siya. I asked, why are you crying? And he said, sayang, he didn’t have classes the next day, chance na niya sana to see LeBron na super idol niya.”
As a last-ditch effort, she posted this on Twitter: “Desperately looking for LeBron tickets at the MOA Arena tom. Raph would be so happy. Timing wala silang pasok! Sino meron diyan for sale?”
The next day, she woke up to a tweet from one of her Twitter followers, Jessica Abenir, who was willing to give her two Lower Box tickets. Ronan was going to see LeBron, after all.
Ruth had to work that day, so it was Dianne who went with Ronan to the Mall of Asia Arena. When “Showtime” host Jugs Jugueta heard that Ruth’s son was already in the arena, Jugs asked Ruth to go with him after their taping—he had an extra ticket.
“We ended up in the Upper Box area. We could see Ronan from where we were,” she said.
After his basketball clinic that thrilled both the fans and the young players he shared the court with, LeBron scanned the crowd for a special kid, someone who would be the recipient of the autographed jersey he just used. His eyes landed on Ronan. “The kid in red,” LeBron said, and soon, someone was lifting Ronan up from his Lower Box spot and handing him over to LeBron who was standing courtside. The crowd cheered. LeBron gave Ronan his jersey, high-fived him and whispered a special message that Ronan almost forgot because of his excitement. He later told his mom, “LeBron said something inspiring, something like not quitting on your dream.”
Later, Ronan told us, “I thought LeBron was pointing at someone else until he said “the boy in the red shirt.” I got so excited and had goose bumps.”
After the show, LeBron fans flocked around Ronan, asking to have photos taken with him and his jersey, calling him the luckiest little boy. Even at Starbucks where they made a post-show pit stop, LeBron fans still recognized him and asked for photos.
“Who would have thought? It’s like the universe conspired,” Ruth said, thrilled that her son’s wish came true. The kid who couldn’t wear his LeBron jersey to the Witness History Tour ended up going home with LeBron’s own.