Boston Celtics help surprise Air Force family with emotional homecoming during game

Seats for Soldiers Night has become a major event on the annual Celtics calendar, and something even the players have come to enjoy.

Before their game against Detroit at the Garden, injured Celtics guard Avery Bradley took part in a video chat with military personnel based at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. He answered questions and reminisced about his own early years in a military family.

But no moment got through to the crowd and players alike more than when Staff Sgt. Matthew Noll, a member of the Air Force National Guard from Shirley, was reunited with his family on the parquet during a break in the first half.

Noll’s mother, father, sister, brother and a cousin were all on the floor when Noll walked down the aisle, surprising all of them to the point of tears.

Noll, a teacher prior to his deployment in Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan, also had the full attention of the Celtics players and coaches. There was no attempt at a huddle. The entire team stood, watched and applauded Noll’s arrival.

“That’s big time. That’s probably the best feeling they’ve ever had,” said Celtics All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas. “You could just see it, as a family, they were so surprised, so happy, they were probably at a loss for words. All we can do is clap, but that’s what life is really about. It’s bigger than what we do out there on the floor. Those guys put their lives on the line — that was big time. I was happy for that family.”

(c)2017 the Boston Herald