Charles Barkley’s unexpected friendship with a cat litter scientist is melting hearts all over the internet

Charles Barkley met Lin Wang in a hotel bar.

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Charles Barkley met Lin Wang in a hotel bar.
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Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

  • Journalist Shirley Wang shared a heartwarming story about her dad’s friendship with Charles Barkley on an episode of NPR’s “Only A Game.”
  • Lin Wang and Barkley met at a hotel bar about four years ago.
  • The two maintained a friendship for years until Lin died from cancer in 2018.

The unlikely friendship between former basketball star Charles Barkley and cat litter scientist Lin Wang is melting hearts across the internet.

Journalist Shirley Wang shared the heartwarming story on Friday’s episode of NPR’s “Only a Game” and detailed how her father and the basketball player met in a hotel bar about four years ago.

Her dad was a fan of Barkley’s and approached him for a photo. Their conversation turned into dinner and then an even longer conversation and evolved into a friendship over three days.

“Certainly, I told him I had a good time talking with him, hanging out with him,” Lin once told his daughter. “He said the same thing to me, and he left the phone number. He said, ‘Whenever you’re in Atlanta, New York City or Phoenix, check out with me. If I’m in town, we’ll hang out and have a good time.'”

Over the years, Barkley and Lin would hang out at dinners and on the set of Barkley’s TNT show “Inside the NBA.”

“Your dad is one of the happiest people I’ve ever met in my life,” Barkley told Shirley. “I’m not just saying that – I mean, think about it: It’s fun to be with your friends, you know? ‘Cause, I don’t have that many friends that I want to be around, to be honest with you. I mean, you know a lot of people. But when you go spend time with your friends, it’s a whole different animal.”

When Barkley’s mom died in June 2015, Lin hopped on a plane and went to the funeral. Lin was later diagnosed with cancer in May 2016 but didn’t tell Barkley about his illness.

“I called him and got mad at him when I found out,” Barkley said. “I was, like, ‘Dude, we’re friends. You can tell me. You’re not bothering me.”

After Lin died in June 2018, Barkley attended the funeral and gave a eulogy for his friend.

“It gives me great memories and great joy to know that I was a friend of his,” Barkley told Shirley. “Just hearing about him at the funeral – what he had accomplished and what he was trying to help other people accomplish, just made me even – I wished he bragged more about himself.”

Read the full transcript here.

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