When Bonnie Huestis was 19, her only brother died in a car accident. Two years earlier, both her parents had suffered the same unfortunate fate.
There were no more males in her family with the surname of Huestis. Sadly, it seemed likely to stay that way.
But flash-forward about four decades, and the Huestis surname is alive and well, hoping to make its mark in Oklahoma City.
On Thursday night, the Thunder drafted Josh Huestis late in the first round. On Friday, they introduced the rookie out of Stanford, with Sam Presti saying that the selection was as much about the person as the player. An examination of his unique background and a closer look at the lady who became his driving force paints a clearer picture.
When Josh was just 32 hours old, he was handed over to Bonnie. Separated and facing financial constraints, his birth parents had him at a young age and were forced to put him up for adoption.
Bonnie was the perfect fit. After recently discovering she was physically unable to have children, she had been exploring this route. After some researching, she hashed out the details with Sutton Lindsay, Josh’s birth mother, and flew down to the Houston area to meet her new son.
“She tells me the story of when she first found out she couldn’t have children on her own, how it was this devastating event to her,” Josh recalls. “But she prayed on it and it became clear she should adopt and she talks about how it was meant to be. And I’m a believer that there’s no such thing as coincidences.”
Bonnie brought Josh back to Great Falls, Montana, to the family’s home out in the country, where they owned a ton of land and a variety of animals, including horses. As his birth parents had hoped — “When they saw where we lived, they were like, yeah, this will be a good place,” Bonnie said — it served as the perfect setting for him to grow up.
And Bonnie and her husband, Gary Walsh, fostered the perfect environment. To both Josh and his younger sister — Kava, whom they adopted a year later — Bonnie and Gary were supportive and encouraging.
“Countless hours of driving me to basketball tournaments, helping me with homework, helping me in the gym,” Josh said. “I could never repay them for that. They’ve made me who I am today.”
And because of her loving ways, when Bonnie came to Josh at a young age to officially finalize what his last name would be, it was a no-brainer. He wanted it to be the same as his mother’s — Huestis.
“She’s raised me from the beginning,” Josh said. “And having her last name is very important to her. It’s just who I am. My last name has become my identity. It was an easy decision to make sure that stayed as my last name.”
“I’m proud of that,” Bonnie added.
But maybe the biggest thing Bonnie did, her most influential and selfless parenting act, was make sure Josh remained aware and in contact with his birth family.