Rudy’s Promise: Mommy & Baby vs. Basketball


This past week one of my favorite players, a former Utah Jazz man and now 4-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, made a decision that confronts the very topic of this blog with precision: to what level do you keep The Promise?

His partner, the inspiring and lovely Julia Bonilla, was set to have a baby, their first, and Rudy did not want to miss the moment.

Problem was: His team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, were set to play Game 2 of the Playoffs against the defending champion Denver Nuggets, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go up 2-0 against the champs.

Per usual with professional sports, most athletes miss big and important family events all the time, including births of their children. It is an unwritten code that you always put the game first, from both athlete and fan perspectives.

Enter Rudy Gobert.

A man from a different planet in terms of how he thinks and what he is determined to do, no matter the public opinion and consequences.

KSL reports Gobert saying:

“It has been clear for me from the beginning, I would do anything I can to be there,” Gobert told reporters during Minnsota’s trip back to Utah in March. “I don’t think there’s any debate to have.”

He expressed confidence that his coaches and teammates would be eager to see him have that moment with his family, no matter what was happening in the postseason.

“That’s what I love about them, we have a level of human connection and empathy for one another that I think is really good,” he said. “And I think all the guys will be literally telling me, ‘Don’t play. Go.'”

That’s just what he did.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s a blessing. It is something that I’ve always wanted in my life.”


This, to me, is the Sports Story of the Year: All-Star chooses birth of child over important playoff game.

To some, this is an obvious choice. Of course you’d be there for the birth of a child, move earth and stone, that’s not even a question….

Well, actually, it’s not so easy.

To others, this is the ultimate betrayal of team, profession, and a broken promise to your incredible blessing of a job as a pro athlete, where legacy and opportunity to win matters more than anything.


What it comes down to is – What is Your Promise? 

This is The Promise to The Family & Self vs. The Promise to Team & Profession.


Read some of the negative comments from athletes as they weigh in:

Gilbert Arenas (played in the NBA for years) from Complex:

On a recent episode of Gil’s Arena, Gobert’s notable absence at Game 2—which the Timberwolves won 106-80—was criticized by Arenas. “It’s a baby, bro. It’s gonna be there when you get back, we hope,” said Arenas, 42. “I’m just saying, the baby, whatever you think you about to do, he going to be asleep. … I get you want to be with your wife and smile and stuff, and your good NBA healthcare insurance… It’s because of you playing.”

Arenas was asked if he believes the game should be more important to Gobert, 31, than being there for the birth of his son Roméo with his girlfriend Julia Bonilla. “Bruh, she in the hospital with great doctors, you taking your goofy a– down there?” he laughed, adding that Gobert could’ve be there via FaceTime since he’s “an IG daddy.”


Draymond Green (current NBA star) from Sports Illustrated:

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green wasn’t entirely sure about the decision to miss the game.

“I was a little skeptical starting the game off, because Rudy was going to miss the game,” Green said on a recent episode of his podcast. “I just felt like — I’m a father of four. I love my kids and I love my wife, but she’s going to have to hold off for me just a few more hours for a playoff game. Me, personally.”

Green added, “Number one, congratulations to him. Anytime we bring new life into this world it’s a special thing. And that’s something, as I said, as a father of four, that I don’t take for granted at all. But I also try to not take this game for granted… So when I heard Rudy wasn’t going to play, I was like, ‘Wow.’ To me it almost felt as if you were almost cashing it in. Like, ‘We won Game 1.’ Because my first immediate question was if they lost Game 1, would the approach be the same? If you lost Game 1 and you’re in jeopardy of going down 0-2, would the approach be the same or would you be there?”


The day of this article is May 12, 2024 – Mother’s Day.

I feel that is an appropriate moment to discuss this topic and particularly beautiful story.

Playoff games, professions, and jobs in the public eye require certain sacrifice.

But if you have a promise to those you love, to yourself, and your team supports your absence, how can you not keep this level of Promise?

I am very impressed that Rudy’s teammates and their organization supported his need to go to the side of Mother-to-be to watch this once-in-a-lifetime truly special moment of baby coming into the world.

In fact, the team was so behind Rudy, they won the game in a total blow out, coming together to prove that they could win without their defensive juggernaut in this important moment, while stepping in to play the best defense of the year.

To top off quite a 48 hour swing, the next day Rudy Gobert was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the 4th time, tying an all-time record.

Baby was born, Mommy is well, he was there for all of it, and returns to play the rest of the games.

“It’s a boy, Mrs. Walker, it’s a boy” (name that song, from the greatest concept album of all-time, if you’re a music history buff without looking it up)

The couple named their son Romeo, as reported in Essentially Sports, and a delightful back and forth with Shaq, Charles Barkley, and Ernie Johnson.

What is your Promise? 

If you have the chance, will you do whatever it takes to be there for the moments that matter?

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mothers out there, the women we love, those who nurture, inspire, and lift us as only the greatest masterpiece God ever created can. No greater creation than women on earth and beyond, every real man knows that.

I’m impressed with Rudy for showing this level of Promise to younger athletes, as a public figure who can do whatever he wants, who was chastised for this choice by so many, and did it anyway.

This is what the world needs – men who step up and support women, are there for our children, and put them as the highest priority.

Sports Story of the Year happened nowhere near a court, but in the sacred space of God’s miracle of Mommy giving life to a child, and I’m so happy for this young family that Daddy was there.

Rudy kept The Promise.

Enjoy SUBSCRIBING to my NEW YouTube Channel when you’re ready to improve upon Your Leadership Promise!

~ Jason Hewlett

Husband, Father, Writer, Mentor, Hiker

  • Speaker Hall of Fame * Award-Winning Entertainer * Mentor
  • World’s Only Keynote Speaker utilizing entertainment, musical impressions, and comedy to teach The Promise
  • Author of “The Promise To The One”
  • President of Cardio Miracle.  Go to to take your health back! Use coupon code HEW2024 for 15% OFF your order.


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8 thoughts on “Rudy’s Promise: Mommy & Baby vs. Basketball”

  1. David Glickman

    “It’s a boy, Mrs. Walker, it’s a boy”–well, of course I don’t need to look that up! I agree with you–greatest concept album of all time. I won’t give it away here, so your other readers can weigh in. But what a perfect lyric to reference for Mother’s Day!

    BTW, about two years ago, Susan and I saw the original group that you are referencing here. They opened the concert with the first 10 minutes or so from that album. That’s all I needed to hear–I could have gone home after that and been perfectly fine–but the rest of the concert was just as good.

    Great post. Happy Mother’s Day to Tami, and to your Mom, and to all the other Moms in your life!

    1. Yes sir! I can only imagine seeing them do that in concert, oh my gosh! Give our best to Susan, she is the BEST.

  2. What a beautiful post. I love everything about this. Thank you for sharing this beautiful idea on this Mother’s Day.

    Hers to all of the amazing, strong men in the world who joyfully celebrate and honor the women in their lives.

    The world needs more men like Rudy Gobert and Jason Hewlett.

    Please excuse me while I go look up that song reference 😀


    I applaud his actions. In this world of so many absent fathers, I am glad he made this choice.

    1. Hahaha! Great words. Thank you Rich. It’s cool seeing an athlete of prominence take this stance.

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