Everyone is getting emotional over Charles Barkley and his friend Lin
A daughter’s story of her dad’s unlikely friendship with NBA legend Charles Barkley is going viral — and making everyone cry in the process. And while it may have you reaching for the tissues, it’s also just the sweetest story.
Journalist Shirley Wang wrote an essay about her father, Lin, and his close relationship with Barkley. The two men met one night while in a hotel in Sacramento several years back. Lin was a cat litter scientist, a Chinese immigrant, and a big basketball fan.
— Longform (@longform) December 15, 2018
“It turned into a two-hour dinner,” Barkley says. “And then we actually went back to the bar and just sit there and talked for another couple of hours. And the rest is history.”
Though even as his friendship with Barkley blossomed, his own family and friends didn’t believe he actually became close friends with the Charles Barkley.
But oh, he did. The two kept in touch after their initial meeting via text and visits — Barkley even invited Lin to the set of “Inside the NBA.” When Barkley’s mom died in 2015, Lin didn’t hesitate to show up for his friend. He looked up the funeral details and flew to Barkley’s hometown in Alabama.
“For your dad to take the time to come to the funeral meant a great deal to me,” Barkley told Shirley.
The following year, Shirley writes, her dad was diagnosed with cancer. She took time off from school to take care of him for two years. She says her dad would always watch “Inside the NBA” before falling asleep. Lin didn’t want to burden his friend with his illness, but Barkley wouldn’t hear of it.
After he died, Lin’s family was astounded when, during the funeral, the Charles Barkley walked in. He even delivered a eulogy for his dear friend.
When Shirley asked Barkley what he could possibly have in common with her dad, his answer was simple: they were both dads who loved their kids.
“I think it was more that he was proud,” Barkley said. “Because I’ve got a daughter, too. I’m just really, really proud of her, because I think she’s a good person. And your dad was so proud of you and your brother.” Barkley told her that as a father, all you want is your kids to be happy — and that’s where he and Lin saw eye to eye.
Since the story was first posted Friday, it quickly went viral and tugged at heartstrings everywhere. Because it’s the sweetest, most beautiful story of friendship ever.
Oh my God, this is the most beautiful story about friendship, and it made me cry this morning. Starring Charles Barkley and the author’s dad. https://t.co/LFfjizV6c3
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) December 15, 2018
I’ll never forget this piece or that it led to this exchange with my wife. “Ugh, what’s making you cry now?” “A story about Charles Barkley” https://t.co/KuKta3HzC9
— Seth Meyers (@sethmeyers) December 15, 2018
So now I'm cryin… great story of real friendship https://t.co/QneJZkcvdE
— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) December 15, 2018
This isn’t just a sports sports or an Iowa story or a really good Charles Barkley story, but a story of dads and human connection and, man, I cannot stop crying. https://t.co/oCTAvZtTQa @shirleyshirlw
— Jada Yuan (@jadabird) December 15, 2018
This is a Peak Asian Dad story—the slideshow! The two-for-one-deals!—But also that her dad mostly talked about his kids with Charles Barkley. And that he never really told her about it. 💔 Thank you for sharing this, @shirleyshirlw.— Celeste Ng (@pronounced_ing) December 15, 2018
The lesson of this story, for me, is the deep connections we form of we are daring enough to be ourselves. Mr. Lin didn’t try to pretend he wasn’t a fan, he didn’t suck up, either. He was exactly the same person with Barkley as he was in Muscatine. Inspiring authenticity.— ana marie cox (@anamariecox) December 15, 2018
The world needs more cat litter scientists— Dander Bogaerts (@Dander_Bogaerts) December 15, 2018
(yelling at my dad this Christmas) Why couldn’t YOU have a heartwarming friendship with Charles Barkley?!?
— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) December 15, 2018
After the funeral, Shirley says she spoke with Barkley some more about her dad. And that’s when one of the most famous athletes in the world talked about how impressed he was by his cat litter scientist friend.
“It gives me great memories and great joy to know that I was a friend of his,” Barkley told her. “Just hearing about him at the funeral — what he had accomplished and what he was trying to help other people accomplish, just made me even — I wished he bragged more about himself.”