Christian Ponder and his wife, Sam, were in the right place at the right time recently to help a family coping with tragedy.
The Ponders bumped into Justin Robbins and his daughters, 9-year-old Brianna and 8-year-old Emily, at a Minneapolis-area mall. Justin, Brianna and Emily had endured an unthinkable loss weeks earlier: Maggie Robbins, Justin's wife and Brianna and Emily's mother, had been killed in a car accident. Lululemon was Maggie's favorite store, and Justin figured he would take his daughters there to cheer them up.
Brianna recognized Ponder, the Vikings' backup quarterback, shopping with his wife at the mall. Justin and his daughters approached Ponder and got a picture with the 26-year-old.
Upon hearing the Robbins' story, Christian and Sam wanted to do something to help. So they told the manager at Lululemon that they would pay for whatever Brianna and Emily wanted.
The girls were delighted to hear this, and they packed everything they could fit into a bag.
“After a while, my daughters had the whole store in a bag," Justin joked in an interview with Minnesota's WCCO-TV. "So I decided to say, ‘You're not getting all those clothes.' I allowed them to get one outfit."
John Lauritsen of WCCO-TV spoke with Justin and his daughters about the experience:
Christian, who initially wanted the gift to be a secret, deflected any positive attention directed his way.
Christian Ponder getting a lot of attention for WCCO story, but he wants focus to be on family grieving the lost of wife/mother #Vikings
— Master Tesfatsion (@MasterStrib) October 15, 2014
Christian and Sam, an ESPN reporter, were married in December 2012. Their first daughter, named Bowden for Bobby Bowden, Christian's coach at Florida State, was born in July.
The Vikings starting quarterback for the majority of the past three seasons, Ponder lost his starting job this year to rookie Teddy Bridgewater.