Sacramento Kings

How the Kings helped welcome a U.S. soldier home and surprise his mother

Vanesa Ibarra was walked onto the court after a first-quarter timeout Sunday as the Kings hosted the Phoenix Suns at Golden 1 Center.

The local resident was blindfolded and asked to stand under the basket as Kings ushers put on a dunking display using trampolines lined up in front of the free-throw line.

However, the last person in line was no usher. He was U.S. Army Pfc. Brandon Covey, who walked over to Ibarra - his mother - and removed her blindfold. A stunned Ibarra threw her arms around her son, and they shared a lengthy embrace on the court as the crowd cheered.

According to the Kings, the Black Hawk helicopter crew chief had just returned home after a six-month deployment in the Republic of South Korea.

Noel Harris is the assistant local editor for The Sacramento Bee. A former Kings beat reporter who still occasionally writes, he’s been in professional journalism for more than 19 years. His roles have included sports editor at The Modesto Bee and news editor at two smaller California newspapers, as well as online producer, page designer and copy editor.