Ariana Grande may be one of the biggest stars in the world today, but back in 1998, she was just a typical South Florida kid who happened to get hit with a hockey puck at Florida Panthers games. Twice. At least she got to ride on the Zamboni!
Last year, Grande posted to the story to her Instagram feed, otherwise, it would be hard to believe. The newspaper report comes from coverage of the first game in the Panthers then-new arena in Sunrise, FL, now called the BB&T Center but then known as the National Car Rental Center. In the article, reporter Jose Lambiet spoke to Grande’s mother, Joan Grande-Butera (Ariana’s full name is Ariana Grande-Butera), who is explaining to Lambiet that in January 1998, Grande was struck in the right wrist on a shot by Panther’s player Gord Murphy. As they are talking, unbelievably, a puck launched by a visiting Tampa Bay Lightning player during warm-ups hit the diminutive Grande on the left wrist! It being opening night, that meant Grande was the first person ever hit by a puck in the new arena.
The Grande-Butera family had been attending Panther games, according to the Miami Sun-Sentinal article, since young Grande was just two-years-old. The first time she was struck, she was four-years-old, Murphy and some other players made up for it by giving her some pucks and equipment. The second time she was hit, she wasn’t as lucky. All she got was a bruise and an ice pack from the first aid station. But she did get to something every kid dreams of before the night was over.
“She’s such a great fan that we bought her the ride at an auction,” Grande’s mother told the reporter. Grande had the privilege of being the first kid to ride on the Zamboni in the new arena when she got to go for a spin in between periods. Three years later, the future superstar would make history in the same building again when she at the tender age of eight, sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” before the Panthers played the Chicago Blackhawks. It seems the singer has always been in the spotlight.
She’s also often been in the tabloids. From supposed feuds with other pop stars, like Taylor Swift, to her whirlwind relationship with Pete Davidson, the gossip media loves to invent phony stories about Grande. Last fall, Gossip Cop even had to debunk a very silly story about Kaitlynn Carter being jealous of Grande and Miley Cyrus working together. Maybe the tabloids need to take a slap shot to the wrist that knocks them out of commission for a while. Grande will keep waving like a queen, just like she did on that Zamboni 22 years ago.