Dr. Leslie Bottrell is a resident physician who works at St. Joseph’s Medical Centre in New York state. A graduate of the University of Windsor, she’s also a former resident of St. Thomas, Ont., as well as a Toronto Raptors superfan.
On Tuesday, she spoke with Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre about an unexpected phone she received from Toronto Raptor and reigning NBA champion Kyle Lowry, while in the middle of shooting a short segment for ESPN.
So how did ESPN end up doing the segment on you?
We had a bit of media attention at our hospital. I work at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in southwest Yonkers. And we had sort of become a bit of an epicentre for coronavirus initially.
It came out in New Rochelle and then we ended up getting the highest cases in that area. So I think through that, ESPN had been alerted and then they reached out to our marketing people and just asked for a female health-care worker who was a mother and also working, and was also a sports fan — someone who had played the sport as well.
They reached out to me and I was the lucky recipient of that.
And they added this extra surprise call with Kyle Lowry. Tell us a bit about how that happened.
They basically asked what was my sport that I was involved in, and I played basketball at the University of Windsor. I played in medical school as well. So my sport was basketball and I had eventually become a Raptors fan. I started out as a Detroit Pistons fan … before this past season, of course.
And they surprised me with [Kyle Lowry] and I was blown away.
Did you have any idea that was going to happen that you’d be speaking to him?
None. I had an inkling that they were going to bring on a professional athlete. I didn’t know who it was going to be. They asked me who my favorite players were and I named a few people that I like, [and] mostly my kids follow too.
WATCH | Kyle Lowry surprises Dr. Leslie Bottrell:
It could have been you know anyone and I think he was the perfect pick for sure.
We were all blown away and the kids couldn’t believe it.
And what’s more is that I understand Kyle Lowry wasn’t even the only pro basketball player that you spoke to that day.
So the interview happened in the morning and then I got home, and the producers reached out to me saying could I hop on a Zoom meeting to do some follow up questions.
I get on there and then they cut out of the picture, and then it’s Vince Carter.
The one and only, the former Toronto superstar, Vinsanity. I understand you didn’t recognize him at first?
No I did. I did. Well, I just wasn’t expecting him. He’s wearing his glasses and stuff, but I did have to kind of do a double take.
So his wearing the glasses I think was a little bit a disguise, but immediately his voice and everything, of course, I knew it was him and yeah that was pretty, pretty special.
That part didn’t air on the special but what was it like speaking with him?
It was great. It was actually really relaxed and easy. A couple of friends of mine, Windsor alumni, ended up working for the Raptors. So I dropped their names to him. We were chatting about them and then we were able to ease into the conversation.
And then of course we ended up talking about the weather and how he managed to last in the Toronto winters and things like that.
So we got a bit of a laugh from that. He was just a lovely, lovely guy.
And of course he had the same sentiments as Kyle, with thanking and everything like that.
I’m sure it must have been such a welcome distraction for you to get away from work at least for a few minutes. New York state is one of the hardest hit areas in the world when it comes to COVID-19. What’s it like working right now in Yonkers?
It was so lovely and such a nice change of pace. And to be recognized and appreciated was really special.
It’s been tough since the end of the middle of March and then up until now, I’ve been largely based in the intensive care unit at our hospital.
It’s just been awful and the devastation of people losing their loved ones and not being able to visit them and us being so frustrated at not knowing, just trying our best, trying everything we can to treat these people and things aren’t working.
And then also the other side of it, seeing some people that just have very mild or asymptomatic cases, it’s like nothing we’ve experienced before.
It was a nice change of pace, that’s for sure, to take a step back and have a day off, to speak to these guys and remember life outside of this pandemic.
On top of this I understand your kids are not with you, they’re back in St. Thomas?
We made the hard decision. But as soon as they closed the schools here — you know, we live in a small apartment and my husband was having to work from home, and I was working sort of around the clock. I wasn’t gonna be here and they needed supervision for their online learning and everything like that.
We make lots of trips up to Canada. So I hopped in the car with the kids and met my dad in Syracuse and traded them for a bottle of Crown Royal.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity. Listen to the full interview below: