Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County 

Mentor Chris Pyon has a front row seat to Angels growth & success

Mentoring creates remarkable relationships, setting in motion a long-lasting impact on both parties’ lives.

Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor Chris Pyon first connected with 10-year-old Angel in 2015.

Pyon quickly realized the child’s potential—and the rest was history, with a connection quickly forming between the two.

Angel was referred to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire through GRIP (Orange County Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership) due to not having a consistent male role model in his life.

Growing up in Anaheim with a single mother and one sibling, Angel faced the trauma of a physical disability—a birth-related injury causing his arm to develop incorrectly—and struggling to cope with the bullying and fear of failure that set in as a result.

At the time, Angel was afraid to go to school due to relentless ridicule and had a very poor self-image.

He isolated himself socially, even hiding his arm under a sweater he never wanted to take off.  

Luckily, Pyon was able to draw Angel out of his shell by introducing him to a love of basketball. Angel was drawn to the sport, and time spent going to games with his mentor allowed him to learn to love and accept himself.

In addition to fostering friendships and positive thinking through basketball, Pyon helped Angel find success and motivation through his studies.

"Right from the beginning, I knew Angel was bright and had the potential to excel. I prioritized academics in mentoring because I believe it can open up so many opportunities,” Pyon recalls.

“It was important to me to allow Angel to [unlock] his potential to increase his self-esteem and grow his confidence in other areas.”

Pyon’s intuition was spot-on. Today, 15-year-old Angel is thriving socially, academically, and on the court. Angel is a pivotal player on his basketball team, and his teammates look up to him as a role model.

Angel no longer lets his disability define him in school, either. He is a straight “A” student surrounded by friends.  

Naturally, Pyon has a front-row seat to Angel’s success. Pyon takes Angel to all his basketball games and weekly college readiness classes in preparation for his next major milestone—graduating from high school and getting a degree.

It’s easy to see that Pyon was that missing link in Angel’s life. The gifts of friendship, mentoring, and confidence were what he needed to believe in himself.  

Pyon’s unwavering commitment to Angel was evident even throughout a global pandemic, during which he never failed to deliver groceries to Angel’s family each Sunday, all while pursuing an MBA at the University of Southern California and simultaneously completing an internship.

In turn, Pyon’s amazing dedication has led to being named a 2021 Orange County Big Brother of the Year finalist.

“I went into the program thinking I would make a positive impact on someone's life, but the program and Angel allowed me to grow as a person, positively impacting me as well,” says Pyon.

Undoubtedly, the future looks very bright for both Pyon and Angel. Their story, which began with two young men’s willingness to listen, inspire, and learn from one another, resulted in an irreplaceable friendship sure to last a lifetime.

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