'That's what he calls me. He says 'you're one of my best friends now.'
He wasn't street racing or dribbling a basketball, but Luis Da Silva still made a huge impression when he visited the Klick-Lewis dealership in Palmyra in June.
Famous for performing basketball tricks on Nike commercials and for small roles in films such as "Fast Five" and "21 Jump Street," Da Silva found his way to Lebanon County to buy a red Corvette from Klick-Lewis sales consultant Keith Stainbrook.
A lot of people will meet a celebrity, get an autograph or a picture, and joke afterwards that they're now "major buds" or "friends for life."
When Stainbrook talks about his one meeting with Da Silva, he's not joking.
"That's what he calls me. He says 'you're one of my best friends now,'" Stainbrook said last week while sitting in his office at the dealership. "Let's see, we now have 327 texts between the two of us."
Celebrities don't text 300-plus times with everyday folks unless they genuinely care.
"Oh, great guy," Stainbrook said, describing Da Silva. "He is what he is."
Their quick friendship happened by chance. Da Silva, who grew up in Elizabeth, N.J., and still lives in the Garden State, was searching the General Motors website for a Corvette for himself.
His local dealership had 'Vettes with chrome wheels, but he wanted black wheels.
He was drawn to the Klick-Lewis website because of its inventory and favorable reviews. Klick-Lewis was named Snap21's Central Pennsylvania Auto Dealer of the Year, based on reviews by customers. And Klick-Lewis had a red 'Vette with black wheels.
"He inquired and we were chatting back and forth for three days," Stainbrook said. "I didn't hear from him for three days and, all of a sudden, I get a text out of the blue: 'Hey, do you still have that red Corvette?'"
That same week, Da Silva rented a car, drove alone from north Jersey to Palmyra, and wrapped up the deal for the Corvette with no fanfare.
"We closed at 6 (p.m.); he got here just before 6. There were just two other people here," Stainbrook recalled. "It went off without a lick."
Da Silva posed with Stainbrook for numerous photos and autographed a few of them.
The 33-year-old Da Silva was discovered at 18 when he auditioned for a Nike commercial. As a teenager, he spent countless hours practicing tricks and moves with a basketball. When Nike officials asked him to perform some tricks, Da Silva wowed them and was almost immediately signed to represent the ad campaign.
He became the face of street ball and, at the time, was the youngest and the only non-NBA player working for Nike. He later played for the Harlem Wizards.
He was contacted in 2006 to audition for his first movie role, which he landed in "The Brave One," which spent four weeks at No. 1 at the box office. He had a small role in another acclaimed film, "Pride and Glory" (2008).
Many fans know him as Diego, the only guy to take on Vin Diesel's Dominic in a street race in "Fast Five" (2011).
Da Silva has been very busy of late. He appears in nine films that will be released in 2015 or 2016. Despite his busy schedule, he told Stainbrook that he plans to return to Palmyra to purchase a vehicle for a family member.
"Whether it's this year or not, he indicated he wants to come back and buy another vehicle," Stainbrook said. "The guy was great. He is as real as he is."