American man's quest to find kind Kiwi who gifted ABs jerseys 15 years ago goes viral

Joey and the All Blacks jersey that was gifted to him.
Joey and the All Blacks jersey that was gifted to him. Photo credit: Supplied

An American man trying to find a kind Kiwi who gifted him two All Blacks jerseys when he was a teen has gone viral, with New Zealanders joining in the hunt to help locate him. 

Joey, now 27 but 13 at the time, was on a flight from Houston, Texas to his home city of New Orleans in Louisiana. 

He was returning home after his mother, who had a brain aneurysm, was transferred from a local hospital to one in Texas. 

Joey struck up a conversation with the passenger sitting next to him, who happened to be a Kiwi. 

He told the New Zealand passenger about his love for the All Blacks and how he had gone to a camp run by people from around the world, including some Kiwis. 

The New Zealand camp members taught him about the All Blacks and rugby, which grew Joey's passion for the game. 

"I was just talking about the All Blacks and how it was a cool rugby team and how rugby was an interesting sport compared to football [American Football] over here in America," he said. 

"I always wanted to go travel to New Zealand because I heard it was such a beautiful place." 

Towards the end of the flight, the Kiwi passenger asked Joey for his address as he wanted to send him All Blacks jerseys. 

Joey gave the man his details but didn't really expect anything to come from it, but about five or six months later, he received a parcel "out of the blue" in the mail, which "blew his mind". 

"You don't think when someone says, 'Hey, I'm gonna send you this' and it's like okay - I thought he would get my address and that was it," he said.

The man sent Joey two All Blacks jerseys and an "awesome" handwritten letter asking him how everything was going with his mum and in his life. 

The jerseys the man sent him were a 2003 All Blacks training top with blue sleeves and a white body and a long-sleeve white jersey.

American man's quest to find kind Kiwi who gifted ABs jerseys 15 years ago goes viral
Photo credit: Supplied

Joey told Newshub the letter really "cheered" him up at a time in his life when he was really struggling. 

"Everything was so dark and miserable, [it] definitely turned me around at that time," Joey said.

"Just having someone reach out with that kindness, to go out of their way to send a random kid that he met across the world, send him a package, mail it, write the letter, pack everything up and mail it to me, it was definitely a shell-shock moment when it happened." 

His family ended up moving house and in the process, Joey lost the letter - and was never able to respond to the Kiwi passenger to thank him for sending the jerseys.  

"I was never able to tell the gentleman I received this package and how thankful I was for the letter and how much it meant to me," he told Newshub. 

"It didn't really dawn on me too much when I was growing up but as I've gotten older, it's definitely sitting there in the back of my head like, dang, this man sent me a package and I never wrote him back, never told him I got the package. I never thanked him because I lost the letter. I never figured out how to get back in touch with this gentleman.

"I kick myself in the ass for it every day that I lost the letter that I was never able to write back."

Now the search is on about 15 years later to find the kind Kiwi. 

Joey believes the man was in his late 30s or 40s at the time and hopes he sees this story as he really wants to thank him for his act of kindness.  

  • Do you know who this passenger is? Contact William Hewett at

Joey initially took to Reddit to spread his message, which has seen dozens of people respond to help find the passenger. 

Many people recommended Joey put it on Facebook to help spread the message faster. 

"Everyone knows everyone here. It's insane. I'm sure you will find him," one person commented on the post said. 

"I hope you end up finding him again," another said. 

Joey told Newshub if he was ever able to meet the Kiwi passenger or get to talk to him again the first thing he'd say is "thank you".

"His act of kindness, words can't describe how good that made me feel in that dark time in my life because I was definitely going through it," he said. 

"I was always in the hospitals, going from home to hospital, home to hospital all the time."

Joey told Newshub he passed the grade he was in at school but spent a lot of time away from the classroom to be with his mother.

"I remember I was alone a lot of that time, not around a bunch of kids my age doing the normal thing a child should do and it definitely brought some light into that dark, dark period of time for me and just from the bottom of my heart I just want to thank him for taking time out of his day to do that for me," he said.