Soccer is only one of many universal languages. For a San Jose Earthquakes player and a Las Vegas taxi driver, it was kindness rather than the international sport that united them.
After cabbie Pedro Hahamian told Quakes player Quincy Amarikwa that he was two months behind on his mortgage, the MLS forward wrote him a check for $2,200 right on the spot.
“If there's a way that you can help someone, you need to find a way to to do that,” Amarikwa said.
Two weeks ago, Amarikwa landed in Hahamian’s cab after attending a marketing conference and needing a ride to the Las Vegas airport. After the two got to talking en route, Amarikwa quickly spotted an opportunity to help someone in need. He handed over a signed check as he exited the taxi.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Hahamian said. “I thought it was a joke.”
Hahamian struck up a conversation with Amarikwa during the ride, sharing the changes he’s seen in the taxicab industry over the 18 years he’s been in the profession. Originally from Argentina, the lifelong soccer fan didn’t even know Amarikwa was a professional athlete.
With the introduction and proliferation of ridesharing services in recent years, Hahamian has personally felt the strain on the industry that once helped him raise a family.
“It’s tough. It’s tough,” Hahamian said. “Too many taxis now. It’s hard to make a living.”
But in taking the time to listen, Amarikwa realized that he was in a position to offer some help.
“He really started opening up with us,” Amarikwa said. “I could just tell he was a genuinely nice person ... he was kind hearted and he was a hard worker.”
Though the decision to help Hahamian was made on a whim, it is consistent with Amarikwa’s personal philosophy. He said he makes a conscious effort to put positivity out into the world and tries to be someone who’s of action, rather than just words.
“I'm a firm believer of what you project out in the world is what you'll receive back 10-fold,” he said. “Don’t just say it, do it.”
Amarikwa was in Las Vegas that week to attend a marketing convention. While soccer pays the bills for now, he has bigger plans that go beyond his athletic career. With entrepreneurial and marketing aspirations, he hopes to find success in the business world while also helping others make their dreams come true.
“There's so many people with great ideas and such passion for what what they love,” he said. “I want to be able to have the resources to help facilitate that.”
The only evidence of their exchange was a photo posted to Amarikwa’s Snapchat, as he decided not to publicize the act by posting it on other social media channels. He later decided to share the details of the story with NBC Bay Area, hoping that in doing so, he could show others that they can help others too.
Hahamian said that thanks to Amarikwa, he was able to stay in his house.
“I appreciate his generosity,” he said.
Before disembarking the cab at the airport, Amarikwa had just a few parting words for Hahamian.
“I just said, ‘Pedro it was nice to meet you, I would love for you to pay it forward the next time you can help someone.’”