We all fantasize about what we’d do and who we’d help if we came into a large sum of money, don’t we?
When college athlete Anthony Leal was offered the opportunity to earn extra money through endorsements, he leaped at the chance. The NCAA’s 2021 policy change allowed collegiate athletes to charge for things like signing autographs, teaching at kids’ camps, monetizing their social media accounts, and starring in advertisements.
Anthony is a junior at Indiana University who majors in business. He also plays on the university’s basketball team, and he attends IU on a scholarship. When the policy change went into effect, he told his father that he planned to hustle hard on the court to earn endorsements, but his goal for the cash wasn’t for selfish reasons. Instead, he intended to use the money to pay off his big sister’s student debt.
“I’m on scholarships so I don’t necessarily need the money, so I decided to try to use that to help my sister,” Anthony told GMA. “It was nice to just be able to take that burden off her shoulders.”
Lauren Leal was also a collegiate basketball player at one time, but an injury ended her time on the courts for good. She recently graduated from Indiana University, and she admitted that she hadn’t even looked at her student loan debt yet, but knew it was in the high five figure area.
On Christmas Day 2022, Anthony decided the time was right to relieve Lauren of a burden she hadn’t even begun to carry. As their parents looked on, he gave her a card with a sweet note inside. She read the card out loud, but when she got to the part about him paying off her student loans, she stopped cold.
“There is no doubt that I have made it to where I am today because of you,” Anthony wrote. “Someone like you deserves no burdens or restrictions in life, and I feel that the best way to help with that is by paying off your student loan debt.”
Lauren was speechless for several moments as she took in the incredible, life-changing news. When she could finally speak again, she crossed the room to give her little brother a big hug.
“I got him a pair of shorts!” she remarked sarcastically.
“She started crying,” Anthony recalled. “My mom started crying. Our grandmother started crying.”
After a family member shared a video of the adorable moment on Twitter, the rest of the world started crying, too! The video went viral, and Anthony and Lauren made several television appearances to talk about his generous gift. As always, Anthony focuses on what really matters: helping the people he loves succeed in their lives, free of restrictions.
“It was a good little way to finish off Christmas morning,” said the star player. “I was happy to put a smile on their faces.”
What a beautiful way to help your family advance in the world! We’d like to get on Anthony’s Christmas list next year, wouldn’t you?
Watch Anthony’s big surprise for his big sister in the video below, and don’t forget to share.
Top 5, parenting moment. Merry Christmas.🎄✨🎁 pic.twitter.com/IgzlZYu8bO— btown@l3alfam (@btownl3alfam1) December 25, 2022
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