What do Novak Djokovic, a Las Vegas cab driver and a 120-mile relay race have in common?

One reader shares his story of the time Djokovic—and a bit of kindness—helped him get out of an unfortunate situation in Las Vegas.
Publish date:

Each week, readers from around the world submit questions to Sports Illustrated executive editor Jon Wertheim for his weekly Mailbag. The questions come in through all avenues—Twitter, Facebook, email (you can send your questions to jon_wertheim@yahoo.com), text messages and more. Earlier this month, rather than an inquiry, a reader sent in a story.

Here is a letter from reader Luis Ramos, who writes about the time Novak Djokovic—and a bit of kindness—helped him get out of an unfortunate situation in Las Vegas:

Mailbag: What if Rod Laver's 'lost years' never existed?

Here’s a tennis connection story for you. Bogdan Marjaja is a Serbian cab driver in Las Vegas. On March 25, 2017, I was part of the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office team for “Baker to Vegas,” a 120-mile law enforcement relay race. Bogdan drove me and part of my team to our hotel on the morning of the race. On the way to the hotel he and I had a conversation about his name, then about Serbian tennis players. We talked about Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Viktor Troicki and of course Novak Djokovic. Bogdan said he'd recently been to Indian Wells and saw Novak lose to Nick Kyrgios and was disappointed. We remarked that Novak (much like Wilander in '88) seemed to lose motivation after winning Roland Garros last year, but we agreed he would be back on top soon.

When he dropped us at our hotel, I paid the fare but left my wallet in Bogdan’s car as he drove off. I couldn't even check into the hotel and was in danger of disqualifying my team from the race, which requires photo ID at check in. I called my wife in San Jose in a panic to get a photo of my passport. About 90 minutes into my panic, I got a call on my cell. It was Bogdan. He found my home number on a drycleaner receipt in my wallet, called my wife and then me. She told me that when Bogdan called, he said, “Your husband likes Novak. He's a good guy. I must help him now.”

Bogdan drove back to my hotel. I gave him all the cash I had in my wallet, though he tried to refuse it, and told him whenever I watch Djokovic play, I will think of him. Wallet in hand, I was able to compete in the race and my team “mugged”—placed in the top 15 in our division—for the first time in our six years of participating in the race. This year we ran for San Jose Officer Michael Katherman, who was killed on duty last year. He was an inspiration to us all.

I guess the lesson here is to be nice to everyone you meet and try to make a connection with them, no matter how small, because it could mean good karma will be returned to you.