THE holiday celebration comes a week before Christmas for JayJay Helterbrand and his family.
The popular Barangay Ginebra player just came back from the US three days ago after attending the college graduation of eldest daughter Keana at Colorado University.
It was a whirlwind five-day trip for the 40-year-old veteran guard, who didn't mind at all as he got his wish to be beside his daughter in this most important part of her life.
Keana, 22, graduated with a degree in computer engineering, as related by Helterbrand to SPIN.ph.
The one-time PBA MVP proudly said his daughter, who he described as very independent, did it by working her way through school.
"It was a blessing to see my daughter graduate in college and be the first in our family. She has worked so hard over the years and was really determined to achieve her goal," said Helterbrand following the Kings' Friday practice at Upperdeck Sports Center.
"Now she has done it."
The seven-time All- Star said her daughter was very 'independent' and tried to serve as a good example to younger sister Jalyn.
"We as a family was very proud of her because she has done all this while working and not asking anyone for help," said the Ginebra playmaker.
The US trip meant Helterbrand had to miss Ginebra's last two games against Mahindra and Alaska as he left the country last December 15.
For this, he expressed his gratitude to the entire team.
"I thank Ginebra management and coach Tim (Cone) for allowing me to go home in the middle of the season to be a part of her special day," said Helterbrand, a five-time league champion, all with Ginebra.
But he vows to be at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan on Sunday for the Kings' Philippine Cup encounter against rival Star Hotshots.