Memphis Grizzlies star Marc Gasol helped rescue a woman from Cameroon, who would have been otherwise left to die in the Mediterranean Sea.
The NBA big man joined Oscar Camps with the non-governmental organization Proactiva Open Arms on the Astral for this mission. Gasol attempted to join last year for a similar trip, but could not because he was playing in the Eurobasket tournament.
He recently spoke about why he joined the rescue trip to help save the life of someone fleeing their war-torn country (via El Pais)
“We have to set a good example, demonstrate the gravity of what’s happening in the world. I want to be a first-hand witness and save people. The risk I may take because I’m an NBA player falls to another, less important level. There’s no better example than the volunteers who are here, who I am cohabiting with. They have a great team and you see everything they do is for the common good.”
Gasol explained that they intercepted a call between a Libyan patrol ship and a merchant. They learned that three people were left behind after a boat was destroyed.
When they spotted an inflatable boat, one of the rescuers jumped into the water – which was filled with gasoline and corrosive salt. They found a woman holding onto driftwood. Unfortunately, they also spotted a woman and a child that had passed away due to the horrible circumstances.
He offered more thoughts about the experience as the interview continued:
“It’s the sensation of having helped save a life – that if it hadn’t been for our team, no one would have found out that this had happened. It would have been said that 150 lives were saved, and the reality is that they had left people who were still alive at sea. I know how those people were [physically]. If we had arrived earlier, perhaps we could have rescued more people. And if we had arrived 15 or 20 minutes later, Josephine would have likely been dead, too.“
The three-time NBA All-Star said he was motivated by the picture of the Syrian child who died on the Turkish coast, Aylan Kurdi, in 2015. He also discussed wanting to set the best example possible for his two children.
Translated from Spanish by HoopsHype’s Francisco Urbina