Cardinals LB Jesse Luketa Catches Ride to Game from Fans After Getting a Flat Tire

The second-year player said he was "extremely grateful and forever indebted" to the Phillips family, who got him to the stadium in time for kickoff on Sunday

<p>AP </p>


Jesse Luketa is rewarding the Arizona Cardinals fans who swooped in to save his day.

On Sunday morning, the second-year Cardinals linebacker, 24, had a tire issue with his 2019 BMW while on his way to State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, where his team was set to play the Los Angeles Rams, he shared in the team’s media availability on Monday.

After pulling into a gas station about 45 minutes away from the stadium, he tried to put air in his tire, but the situation soon became dire. And Luketa needed to be at the facility by noon, The Athletic reported.

“As I’m sitting there, I look to my right, I see a family, they’re in Cardinals gear,” the Edmonton, Canada native said while talking to reporters. “It looks like they’re going to the stadium, so I’m like, I absolutely have nothing to lose. I put my window down, and I just yell out, ‘You guys going to the stadium?’ ”

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Luketa recalled that the man, identified by The Athletic as 31-year-old J.W. Phillips, looked at him “crazy.” But after the Penn State alum told the father of three that he was a Cardinals player, and that he had a flat and needed a ride to the stadium, Luketa said Phillips replied, “Heck ya, come on!”

The athlete scrambled into the front passenger seat of the family’s Infiniti QX80, displacing Phillips’ wife, Nicole, who sat in the back with their three children, per The Athletic. Everyone then became fast friends on the ride to State Farm, where Luketa said he asked Kane, 10, Brody, 7, and Kinsley, 5, about how their Thanksgiving and got know them all better.

“He is just the nicest human being,” J.W. told the outlet. “The kids were giving fantasy football updates and who scored. They asked him how he went to college and where he played. We talked about how he’s from Canada [and] about his family. He’s just very genuine and sincere.”

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When they pulled up to the stadium at 11:52 a.m., Luketa let them park in a “friends and family” space, much to the family's delight.

And despite the Cardinals' 37-14 loss, after the game, the lineman and his new heroes met up for a picture. Now, Luketa is lining up Dec. 17 Cardinals-49ers tickets for the family. It’s feel-good story that wasn’t written in a playbook, but "it’s definitely one for the books,” Luketa said on Monday.

“This is the type of stuff that only happens to me," he told reporters. "I don’t know anyone else it would happen to. But I’m extremely grateful and forever indebted to them.”

Later, the player took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to share his appreciation. "Beyond grateful for them, I need some help getting their contact information would love to provide them with tickets to our next home game!" he posted of the "true story," adding that "good people still exist!"

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