NEW YORK — When 18-year-old Fahad Saleem’s home caught fire in early March, his belongings went up in flames. The only one of Saleem’s things that survived the blaze was a black Kyrie Irving Brooklyn Nets jersey.
In an interview with Anthony Puccio, Saleem said that he was in school when he received a FaceTime call from one of his neighbors showing him that fire trucks were surrounding his home. Saleem said that he left school, got on the subway and rushed to his house to find it going up in flames. Eventually, he was able to get into his bedroom and saw the only thing remaining: a charred Irving jersey.
His Spencer Dinwiddie jersey — the first jersey Saleem said he bought with his own money — was burned in the fire.
“It was crazy,” Saleem said. “I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘Oh my god.’ The fire department thought I got hurt, but I was just shocked that the jersey was standing there.”
Saleem snapped a photo and posted it to his personal social media. After the fire, his family spent 2½ weeks in a hotel. A few days after the fire, Saleem ventured to Barclays Center for the Nets’ March 6 game against the San Antonio Spurs. The Nets would eventually defeat the Spurs by 19 points.
“That night was something I needed,” Saleem said.
At the game, the Nets tweeted at Saleem and a PR staff member came and found him in his seat. After the game, Saleem and his four friends who accompanied him were brought down to the court and met Dinwiddie. Saleem brought the singed Irving jersey with him and sent it off with the public relations staff to be signed by Irving, who was not at the game because he had recently undergone shoulder surgery.
Dinwiddie signed a fresh jersey for Saleem.
Weeks later, Saleem opened a package that contained the smoky jersey that Irving had signed.
“To whom much is given, even more is required,” Irving wrote. “With peace and love, we all can heal from life’s unexpected events. I am grateful you are okay. Your friend, Kyrie.”