If there’s one story you ought to read this holiday season, it’s this one.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News chronicled Dirk Nowitzki’s annual visit to Children’s Hospital in Dallas. Aside from allowing Mavs photographer Danny Bollinger to take photos for the families, this is the first coverage Nowitzki has ever allowed of the visits he’s given for nearly two decades.

Townsend follows Nowitzki as he visits 19 children in the hospital, ranging in age from infancy to 20 years old. The face of the Mavs franchise and greatest foreign player in NBA history introduces himself only as Uncle Dirk to the children and their families, before delivering a couple gifts and spending time getting to know each kid.

You’ll laugh, and you might cry, too. The biggest takeaway from this story is there really is only one Dirk Nowitzki. As a Children’s Hospital staffer said to Townsend, no one else is like him.

“This is the best day of the year for all of us,” said Keri Kaiser, Children’s Medical Center’s senior vice president of marketing and communications. “To me, this is a privilege, to watch him do this every year, seeing how much joy he brings.

“I don’t want to offend any of the other athletes in the city, but no one else does this. There is no publicity. There’s no talking about it. And he is dedicated to it.”

And Dirk loves the visits, too, as even though those he sees are going through incredibly difficult times, his presence alone is enough to uplift their spirits.

“It’s rough sometimes,” he said. “It’s frustrating at times. You’re speechless at times. But this is always my favorite appearance of the year. It means a lot to the kids and the parents and, obviously, to me.”

Click here to read the full story.

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