The tears flowed for just a short time after Chris Paul and Jack Gallagher met for the first time before the Clippers played Detroit on Wednesday night.
The two became connected after Paul saw a video tribute on Twitter that Gallagher had posted of his mom, 49-year-old Lisa Elaine Gallagher, who had died from an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Jack, 13, had placed one of the Nike CP3 shoes his mom had given him on her grave and posted his wish to have Paul wear his mom's initials on his shoes during a game.
True to his word, Paul had the initials, "L.E.G." written on his shoes before he scored 23 points in the Clippers' victory.
But before the game, Paul met with Jack, his dad, Michael, the rest of the family and friends on the court at the
Paul, whose nickname is CP3, gave Jack a new pair of CP3 shoes, and spent about 20 minutes with the group, all of them showing their emotions as tears ran down their faces.
"It was really awesome to meet him," Jack Gallagher said after the game. "It was fun to watch him play. It was really fun to watch the game. He's really good at basketball."
After Paul saw the video tribute, he instructed his wife and personal assistant to help him find Jack and his family.
Once they did, arrangements were made for the Gallaghers and friends to drive the 3 1/2 hours from their home in Erie, Pa., to Detroit as guests of Paul.
Paul invited Jack into the locker room after the game, and the team let him join the team huddle as they all said, "Clippers!"
"It was all so surreal," Paul said about meeting Jack. "Sometimes there are things that are bigger than basketball."
Michael, Jack's father, couldn't hold back the tears as he reflected on the evening.
"At the end of the day, it shows that while his mother is gone, she matters," Michael said. "Her life matters. Loving his mother matters. He got to meet his hero. Not just meet his hero, but to be a part of his world for a night because he loved his mother. I think it's a message for everyone."
As Jack, family and friends stood in the hallway after the game, Clippers players — including Blake Griffin,
Then Paul came back again, telling Jack, "I'll see you guys in Cleveland," and that he has another special friend he wants Jack to meet.
The Clippers play at Cleveland on Feb. 5, and Paul is good friends with LeBron James.