Barack Obama made a surprise appearance at the 13th annual NBA Cares All-Star Day of Service on Friday.
The former president, 58, joined hundreds of volunteers, including NBA and WNBA players, at Wintrust Arena in Chicago to pack backpacks with supplies.
According to ABC News, Obama met with NBA rookie sensation Zion Williamson, of the New Orleans Pelicans, and Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic at the event.
Meanwhile, at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, several players helped to sort and pack food into cardboard boxes that will be distributed throughout the community. The news outlet also reported that this year was the largest volunteer produce re-pack in the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s history, which dates back to 1979.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository works with over 700 partner organizations and programs, including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and mobile distributions, to help feed the homeless in the Chicago area.
“The biggest thing is knowing all the work that we do, not just myself, but everybody here, I think that it’s going to a greater cause, going to people in need,” Donovan Mitchell, guard for the Utah Jazz, told reporters at the event. “Being able to do stuff like this that brings joy to my heart because you’re fulfilling people’s needs and that’s what’s special.”
Brandon Ingram, forward for the New Orleans Pelicans echoed similar remarks, saying, “I’m very intrigued visiting the little kids and seeing their situations… I’m trying to do the right thing and just giving back and supporting.”
“That loss is something that I know many of us are still grappling with,” Obama said. “Particularly Kobe because he was with his daughter, and those families and those children. Those of us that have the privilege of having children and taking kids to ball games, and then rooting for our children and seeing our dreams and hopes passed onto them. Nothing is more heartbreaking. I want to offer the NBA family Michelle and my’s deepest condolences and obviously the families of the Sterns and the Bryants.”
A tribute to Bryant was also paid before Friday night’s NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, as well as to former NBA commissioner David Stern with a 24.2 second moment of silence.
Team Wilbon fronted by team captain Common won the matchup, 62-47. Common’s full team comprised of Latin superstar Bad Bunny, comedian Hannibal Buress, country artist Kane Brown, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader Jon Batiste, Saturday Night Live star Alex Moffat, chef José Andrés, comedian Famous Los, singer and rapper Jidenna, and retired NBA star Quentin Richardson.