The Harlem Globetrotters are known for bringing smiles to fans’ faces, but they took their joyful role to new heights over the weekend when they helped one military mother surprise her family ahead of their game.
Sergeant Deandrea Proctor had been deployed in Kuwait for seven months with the United States Air Force before she returned home to Memphis, Tennesee and surprised her family by sneaking into their photo at the FedEx Forum.
The emotional reunion was captured by the basketball team in a video, which has since warmed the hearts of fans around the country.
“I am very joyful and appreciative for the opportunity the Harlem Globetrotters provided to make this surprise so special,” Proctor said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “All of the players and staff were great helping make this something that we will never forget.”
“My family was truly shocked and we continue to receive positive calls and messages about the video,” she added.
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Ahead of the game, Proctor’s boyfriend and 3-year-old daughter were called down to the court, where they had an opportunity to meet and take photos with several of the athletes.
During one of the group shots, the team gathered around the duo, preventing Proctor’s boyfriend and child from seeing her secretly walk onto the court and sneak into the shot beside one of the athletes.
After the photo was captured, the team then concealed her behind them and a staff member walked up to Proctor’s boyfriend and daughter and asked them to review the image. But instead of seeing themselves with the group of athletes, the pair were incredibly confused to see Proctor standing in the frame.
“Who’s that?” the staff member asked, zooming in on the shot. Her baffled daughter responded, “Mommy?” but couldn’t quite comprehend why and looked around the room in search of Proctor.
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Finally, the Globetrotters stepped away to reveal Proctor beaming in her uniform. The crowd immediately erupted into cheers while her boyfriend and daughter were astonished to see her standing in the arena.
After a moment, her daughter could no longer contain her excitement and leaped out of Proctor’s boyfriend’s arms and straight into her mother’s. Her boyfriend soon joined them, wrapping his arms around the pair in a loving embrace as the Sgt. struggled to hold back tears.
While the emotional family reunion was happening, the Globetrotters and crowd all rose to their feet, happily applauding for the trio.
The Harlem Globetrotters are currently on their “Pushing the Limits” World Tour, where “fans will experience even bigger moments and memories,” according to their website.
The team is scheduled to stop over 200 times across North America and 30 countries around the world in 2020.