Two years ago, on vacation in Italy with his wife, Chelsea, JJ Redick stopped at a U.S. Cemetery, outside of Florence.
“That was really an emotional moment for me because that was where he was flying his missions over,” Redick said of his grandfather.
Redick’s grandfather served in the Air Force during World War II, flying over 30 missions throughout Europe, usually over Northern Italy.
“That he survived to make my mother,” Redick said.
Before his next thought, Redick trailed off thinking about how his grandfather survived the "max" number of missions.
The greatest gift I ever received was from my mother, as an adult. It was a framed photo of my 19-year-old grandfather, when he entered the Air Force and all of his medals from World War II.
I come from an area in Virginia where a lot of people I know served, still serve, and are now officers. It’s incredible what our service men and women do to protect our country, and I am just incredibly grateful.
While Redick told me the story of his grandfather, he was holding his son Knox in one arm. Knox was a little bit squeamish after having spent the past hour and a half helping his dad package holiday stockings for service members in Iraq, Afghanistan and veterans.
Landry Shamet and T.J. McConnell also walked by at the Boys & Girls Club Tuesday in Camden, New Jersey, as did Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil and dozens of other Sixers employees. In between assembling hygiene kits, McConnell had been hanging with his "Walk In My Shoes" mentee, Chris Frison, who lost his father in the line of duty when he was just six months old.
It’s all part of the Stars and Stripes initiative, furthering the NBA’s Season Of Giving, which honors the military and their families as well as veteran-serving organizations and retired servicemen and women.
Even head coach Brett Brown addressed the crowd.
“The gratitude that we all have for the United States military," Brown said. "The people that we’re looking at in service, the stockings we’re going to fill, myself and my players are so grateful for this opportunity.”
“It’s a small token of our gratitude,” Redick said. “I have an incredible amount of respect and gratefulness for every service member and what they do for our country.
“You realize that you’re part of something that’s bigger than yourself.”
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.