Rarely in this never-ending hell cycle of news do we get to see something pure and wholesome.
But on Monday, Toronto Raptors star Fred VanVleet provided us with a much-needed dose of sweetness, when he was finally reunited with his two young kids after being away from them for nearly two months.
VanVleet’s partner, Shontai Neil, shared the moment on her Instagram stories. It’s impossible not to feel joy when you see the couple’s two-year-old daughter, Sanaa, race down the hotel hallway towards her father, exclaiming “I love you, Daddy!” after he scoops her up in his arms.
Sanaa and her one-year-old brother Fred Jr. haven’t seen their dad in person since the Raptors left Toronto to join the NBA bubble in Orlando in early July. Now that the team has made it to the second round of the playoffs, each player is allowed to have up to three family members join them in the bubble.
Other players have talked about how hard it is to be away from their families for so long.
“I miss the hell out of my family,” Los Angeles Lakers star player LeBron James said in August. “My wife, my kids, my mother, and so on, and so on. So, it’s a huge challenge.”
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum told reporters he’s worried about missing important moments in his son’s development.
“Just being away from my son for two or three months, that’s what’s really bothering me,” Tatum said. “Knowing that he’s only two-and-a-half, and especially when they’re that young, their growth, they change every week, just knowing I’m going to miss out on that.”
Another Raptors star player, Kyle Lowry, missed both of his sons’ birthdays during the months he was in Orlando without them: Kameron turned five in July, and Karter turned nine in August.
The ridiculously adorable VanVleet kiddos have been providing more than their fair share of sweet content over the last few weeks. In July, Neal posted a cute video of Sanaa watching a Raptors game. She jumps up and starts dancing when she sees her dad on TV, yelling, “He’s my daddy!”
VanVleet said watching the video made him cry, according to a TSN reporter.
“She’s a character,” he said. “But it definitely hits home, not being able to see them.”