THE old picture showed Danny Seigle gracing a promotional event for the 2000 PBA All-Star Weekend in Iloilo City, posing with a group of basketball-playing boys and his arm wrapped around the smallest kid in the bunch.
"Probably the shortest guy in that league," was how Seigle described the young Emman Monfort.
Fast-forward to 2013: Seigle is now a teammate at Barako Bull of Monfort, who, back then, was probably the last player the longtime PBA star forward thought would make it to the PBA.
Monfort thought so, too.
“Sobrang liit ko talaga nun, hindi ko rin nga inisip na magiging PBA player,” said Monfort, then a Grade Five student and a benchwarmer in St. Joseph Grade School's varsity team when the picture was taken.
The small kid, however, loved Seigle so much that he fought for a seat in the front row near where he felt Seigle would most likely sit - and was left starstruck when the PBA star took a place right next to him.
“Talagang idol na idol ko si Danny noon. Kaya nung magpapa-picture kami, sa gitna ako pumuwesto kasi alam ko dun malaking chance na umupo siya,” he recalled.
“Starstruck na starstruck talaga ako sa kanya, hanggang ngayon nga eh,” he added.
Seigle could very well have forgotten about that kid, had Monfort not persevered and became good enough to average almost 40 points for his high school team and later get a call from Ateneo.
At Ateneo, the heady 5-foot-6 playmaker won four championships in as many seasons with the Blue Eagles including his final year where he took over the starting point guard spot.
He was later picked in the second round at 16th overall by Barako Bull in the last PBA rookie draft, paving the way for the reunion with his childhood idol.
“Talagang sinikap ko noon na mag-improve sa game ko, kahit maliit ako," he said. "Pinilit ko na hindi yun maging hadlang.”
Seigle said he was amazed at how Monfort was able to work his way up all the way to the pro league - and said he continues to be amazed watching the pint-sized kid every day in practice and in games.
“For me, Emman’s story should give inspiration to everyone," said Seigle, now 37. "(He's) probably the shortest guy in the league, and how he was just able to make it to the PBA is simply amazing.
“It’s unbelievable, that had to take a lot of hard work and dedication."
Monfort's PBA debut had been sidetracked after injuring his right hand twice, but Seigle was the least surprised when the point guard started making waves as soon as he became healthy.
“Emman is a great player, he was just unlucky (with all the injuries),” said Seigle. “Emman is bound to be a big help to any team he’ll play for, he’s up to a challenge, he plays like he’s not a rookie.”
Seigle said he was happy to be a source of inspiration for Monfort. But now, Seigle said it's the kid's turn "to inspire others."
“He should inspire other small guys out there, that there is a chance to make it to the big league,” he said.