It’s an act of brotherly love that rivals Philadelphia’s famous namesake.
Brothers Aaron, 26, and Brandon Rector, 23 were just excited to be chosen for the half-court shootout challenge during Sunday night’s Indiana Pacers game against the Utah Jazz. For all the brothers from Greenwood, Ind. knew, they had a chance at winning some money — not the real prize that was in store.
No, the real prize wasn’t the $300 they had won after making a free throw and a three-pointer. It was their youngest brother, Justin, a U.S. soldier home from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan. The Pacers captured the joyous reunion on their Instagram account:
“The emcee walked us out in the middle of the court and we glanced over and saw Justin come out of the tunnel,” Aaron told ABC News. “I lost it. We were pretty excited.”
Their parents and Aaron’s pregnant wife, expected to deliver their child on Feb. 28, had been planning the soldier surprise for about six months, completely unbeknownst to Aaron and Brandon, who thought their brother wasn’t supposed to return until March 7.
“My wife was a big catalyst in all this,” said Aaron. “She obviously wants him to be home for the birth of our daughter, and she helped plan so much of this.”
With no plans for redeployment, Aaron says the Rector family takes comfort in having Justin “home and safe.”
If the memory of the reunion isn’t enough for the family, fellow Pacers fans who witnessed the touching moment shared in the brothers’ excitement by tweeting Aaron and Brandon pictures from their seats.
— Jason Wyrick (@SteaglesPD) March 3, 2014