PORTLAND -- An emotional video has a Trailblazer rookie winning fans over before even stepping on the court.
“I just want people to know I’m a real person,” said 7-foot center Meyers Leonard.
Last week he tweeted a video (see below) of his emotional reunion with his big brother Bailey who made a surprise return from military duty in Afghanistan.
The reunion happened in March just before Meyers played his final home game at the University of Illinois.
“He had told me he was going on a two-week mission. Little did I know my friends were working on him coming back for more than a month. It was an unbelievable moment,“ Leonard said during Monday’s Trailblazers media day event.
In the video, made by the Big 10 Network, you see Bailey call to Meyers at mid-court.
He wells up with emotion and makes his way across the court to embrace his brother.
“I was just so happy to have him home and have him safe,” Meyers recalled.
Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts was proud of Meyers for Tweeting the video.
“I told my wife, who was watching the video with tears, 'I’m glad he put that out there so that fans can see some of the struggles these players have in their lives,'” said Stotts.
The financial struggles for the Leonard brothers started when their Dad died in a bike accident while they were still in grade school.
Their mom has chronic back pain.
“There were times we didn’t have electricity, water or furniture,” Bailey says during the 2-minute video.
Monday Meyers picked out a jersey with his number, 11, to send to his brother.
“How much is this going to be?” he asked as he considered the purchase.
When he learned he got a 40 percent discount, he said he’d also be selecting shirts for his mom and girlfriend.
His brother is finished with military duty and living in Illinois.
“I hope they can all make it out for a game,” said Meyers.
When told there would be a Military Appreciation Night in November, he said that should be the game.
“So many people tweeted after seeing the video,” said Meyers. “They said they were happy that despite our struggles we turned out to be successful.”