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Wayne Gretzky’s Heartwarming Gesture for Family Who Lost Son on 9/11

They call #99 “The Great One” because of his outstanding play on the ice, but we may soon have to change that to “The Greatest One” because of Wayne Gretzky the man, not Wayne Gretzky the player.

Gretzky joined the Spittin Chiclets crew during their broadcast of the FDNY vs. NYPD hockey game over the weekend, no doubt to help promote an event that puts the spotlight squarely on first responders. Given that the game was between two New York-based teams, Wayne Gretzky was asked to retell a famous story about a family who lost their son during the tragic events of 9/11.

Gretzky would go on to tell how he met a family by the pool one day, a chance meeting that would forever change the contents of his wallet.

“Janet and I happened to be in Vegas for a charity event and they were sitting by the pool… sort of a family get together,” revealed Gretzky over the weekend. “I kinda walked by and they said ‘Are you Wayne?’ and I said yeah and they said ‘We had a son that tragically passed in 9/11 and here’s his picture,’ and they gave me his card and I said I’ll keep it in my wallet for life.”

It was a nice thing for Gretzky to do and say, but surely no one would hold him to the impossible standard of keeping a photograph of a man he had never met and would never meet in his wallet for the rest of his life?

According to Gretzky, a full decade later, he ran into friends of that very same family while in Las Vegas, and what happened when they met will leave you in awe of Wayne Gretzky the man.

“10 years later I was in Vegas again for another event,” continued Gretzky “and friend’s of their family said ‘Can we ask you a question, do you still have that picture of our friend? Their family told us you were gonna have it in your wallet.’ I said yeah, and I pulled my wallet out and I still had the picture. I said I promised the family I would never lose it, I would keep it forever.”

Perhaps even more impressive than Gretzky’s incredible act of kindness was his completely humble and matter-of-fact delivery of the story. Wayne made it clear that he did not want to be recognized for the gesture, even though he certainly deserves it.

“You know what? Everyone went through a hard time,” said Gretzky. “For me to keep a little keepsake like that is special to me.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Great One.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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