April 28, 2011

Josh Gomes: My Eritrean brother can dunk; he just wanted a little help this time

Basketball pro Josh Gomes teams up with Johnno, age 7
 at Levinsky Park in South Tel Aviv
Josh Gomes and I are family. Yup. Most of the kids buzzing around Josh arrived in Israel with their parents to escape genocide, war, and hunger. They are refugees, asylum seekers, or migrant workers — legal and the other kind. All the kids begged the gentle, towering American to notice, coach, and play with them as they passed, blocked, and aimed balls at the basket. "He's a real player! He's a real player! gasped 11-year-old Joseph, who recognized Josh from TV coverage.

The international team of players, with roots in Israel, Sudan, Darfur, the Philippines, Eritrea, and Russia all speak Hebrew plus two or more languages; within nanoseconds, they bonded with their instant hero. Their common language? Smiles, hugs, and, a rich patois stew of Hebrew and Arabic among the kids and, between them and Josh, bits of English they know and Hebrew phrases Josh learned during his three seasons playing professional basketball on Israeli teams.

Volunteer Maureen Milham hugs Johnno
flanked by Josh and me
Maureen supplied the basketballs from her U.S. Army surplus backpack, stamped in green letters, "Humanitarian Aid." A fitting name for this oasis in space and time of friendship, play, and joy.

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Anonymous said...


Dror said...

A Worthy Cause


Linda said...

This brought tears to my eyes. How sweet! That's my son! Thank you, Tammy, for sharing this bit of sunshine.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Tammy...That's wonderful!



Beachdiary said...

It's funny. He has the same name as my maiden name: Gomes. And I am from the Netherlands :)

Tamar Orvell said...

Hi Beachdiary,

Josh has roots in Cape Verde as do many of his fellow Americans and your fellows from the Netherlands. Same point of origin. DIfferent emigration routes.

Thanks for sharing your maiden name;-) Perhaps you and Josh will meet if he returns to Israel next pro-basketball season.

Stefan said...

AMAZING blog post, thank's for sharing. Now i know again why I miss TLV so much when I am not there... cause it is buzzing of amazing stories.