King-sized dream: Watching NBA team live at new Golden 1 Center

Editor’s note: For nearly 30 years, The Sacramento Bee’s Book of Dreams has helped people and organizations in our community realize their dreams.

Ruben Molina has lived in Sacramento more than 40 years, and he has been a Kings fan since they came to town in 1985. Yet he has never been able to attend a game.

“The Kings got me into watching basketball. But to go see them play … far too expensive,” said the fan, his humble eyes downcast and sad.

Molina, who turns 51 next month, practically lives in the shadow of the new Golden 1 Center. He always hoped he would be able to attend a game in person, but his salary as a dishwasher and maintenance man at area restaurants left little after necessities were covered.

His dream of watching them play live and in person seemed even further away. On Valentine’s Day 2011, he was rushed to the emergency room when his diabetic right foot, swollen and purple, had to be amputated. He blamed himself “for letting it go too long and not seeing a doctor about it right away. I don’t like to hear bad news, ‘You got this or you got that.’ 

“I had to go to therapy to learn to walk again,” Molina said. “It hasn’t been easy, but you learn to live with it. It takes me a little bit longer to get ready for anything now – 40 minutes, at least.”

So he can walk, but not far and not fast. He uses a wheelchair for longer journeys, and is able to pick up discarded cans and bottles using a grabber and pitching them into the basket on his three-wheeled bike. He takes them to a recycling center on Richards Boulevard for what he calls “pocket change.”

Despite his health woes and tight budget, Molina said he believes, “We have to make the best of what happens. Like the saying goes, ‘If someone throws a lemon at you, catch it and make lemonade.’ 

Molina, from a family of four boys and a girl, receives much support from his family, a couple of whom were hanging out on the couch watching a game on TV as he gave this interview.

He said he would love to see his beloved Kings play in their brand-new home, and take his sister Patty with him to enjoy the game with him. Oh, and maybe enjoy a little popcorn and food.

All Book of Dreams donations are tax-deductible, and none of the money received will be used for administrative costs.

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Needed: Two upper-tier seats with handicap access in Golden 1 Center for a Kings game and refreshments.

Cost: $250

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