May 26, 2014, 3:30 PM EST
Keri Hilson, the singer famous for “Pretty Girl Rock,” was not sitting on the Oklahoma City Thunder bench in the closing minutes of the Thunder’s Game 3 win over San Antonio. But she believes she knew how Serge Ibaka – who’d just turned in an incredible, injury-defying performance – felt.
Hilson, who is dating Ibaka, spoke to Sam Amick of USA Today:
Hilson can’t prove it, but she’s sure that Ibaka was crying on the bench underneath that towel that covered his head in the final moments of Game 3. Happy tears all around, to be sure.
“I was so proud,” Hilson said. “When he was crying here on the bench — I believe he was crying — I was crying too. It was emotional because I saw how just yesterday and the day before yesterday to see that he was on crutches, he was in his brace. I know he played through pain, I don’t know how he did it, but he did it.”
How did Ibaka make this miraculous comeback?
Hilson elaborated on how she and Ibaka’s sister, Rachina, helped the Thunder forward. Amick:
But when Hilson hopped a plane came straight from Atlanta in the days after Ibaka was injured back on May 15, the look on Serge’s face said it all about how much work they had to do here.
“As soon as I heard, I didn’t feel comfortable being anywhere else,” Hilson, who is based in Atlanta and Los Angeles and met Ibaka through a mutual friend, told USA TODAY Sports. “Even though he didn’t say it, I knew he needed me. I needed to do anything I could to put a smile on his face. He didn’t have a smile on his face all week. It was very hard. It was really hard. He’s one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever seen in any field, one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever been able to witness. (Rachina) was as much his nurse as I was. She cooks. I do the TLC and cook a little bit. We had to be there for him.”
Ibaka did not return alone. He has a locker room full of adoring teammates behind him.
“The best teammate I’ve ever played with is Kevin Garnett, but Serge is right there behind K.G., No. 2,”
Ibaka clearly has support coming from all directions. That’s so fly, it’s a little bit scary. (Sorry.)
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