Goldsboro High School math teacher Kyree Bethel wasn’t looking for attention. He just wanted to do something nice for a student who comes into his classroom every morning.
But when the GHS Pride crew heard that Bethel was going to give a pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes to a young man who has always dreamed about lacing up those particular sneakers, we wanted to document the moment.
Justin, the student on the receiving end, didn’t disappoint. His reaction brought many in the room to tears.
“Jordans,” he said, his lips giving way to a wide smile. “Size twelve.”
But those of us who witnessed the moments that followed — Justin kicking off his shoes and lacing up his new black and red Jordans — weren’t the only ones with tears in our eyes. Bethel choked up, too.
“It was unreal. It leaves you speechless,” he told the Pride. “It really was touching. I couldn’t look at him but for so long because I didn’t want to tear up.”
So what prompted this random act of kindness?
“Justin’s a good guy, man. I know despite everything he goes through, he still comes to school with a smile on his face,” Bethel said. “He comes into my room every day and he always asks me about my shoes.”
But Bethel understands that Justin might never be able to afford a pair of his own. And he knows that because of his pre-teaching experience as a semi-pro basketball player who played overseas, students across GHS know him as the guy who can ball — and the guy who has an amazing collection of Jordans. So he seized the opportunity to give back.
“My main thing is wanting to making a difference in somebody’s life, so I figured he can have his first pair of Jordans from me,” Bethel told the Pride. “I know that’s something that kid will never forget. He’ll remember this for the rest of his life.”
But the moving moment was not only confined to Bethel’s classroom. The Pride posted a video of Justin’s reaction on the GHS_Cougars Twitter feed and the post went viral. And then, the unthinkable happened. Michael Jordan’s verified Twitter account commented underneath the video.
Bethel is still floored that a seemingly small act of kindness has taken so many people aback. But he’s glad it did.
“I didn’t know it would get that far, but I’m glad it did,” he said. “It’s a blessing to me, to GHS, and to Justin and his family. I was fortunate enough to be able to give back. For it to blow up like this, it’s a wonderful feeling.”