Skip to comments.Hoop Hero (An inspiring story you will not want to miss)
Posted on 02/23/2006 7:34:00 PM PST by tang-soo
2/23/2006 6:00 PM (Dave Yates, WROC-TV)
Last night, we showed the amazing video of an autistic kid who did the unthinkable at a recent Greece Athena basketball game. He scored 20 points in the last four minutes. Dave Yates sat down with this young star about what seems like a fairy tale dream.
It really doesn't get much better than this, a true example of how sports can create a positive experience. It was the type of story a Hollywood studio would dream up. The team manager comes off the bench and scores in his final home game. But Greece Athena senior Jason McElwain made this dream a reality and then some, scoring 20 points
"My first shot was an airball, by a lot. Then I missed a layup and then as soon as the first shot went in and then the second shot, as soon as that went in I just started to catch fire," says Jason.
Like any good Hollywood story, this one has a twist. Not only had Jason never played in varsity game before, he's also autistic.
"This is the first moment Jason has ever succeeded and proud of himself. I look at autism as the Berlin Wall, he cracked it," says Jason's mom, Debbie McElwain.
"I've had a lot of thrills in coaching and I've coached alot of wonderful kids, but I've never experienced something like this ever in my life, you know other than my own personal family things. My emotions, I couldn't stop crying," says Athena head coach Jim Johnson.
Getting to this point hasn't been easy for Jason. His autism is a condition that has made some people uncomfortable to be around him. Obviously the kids at Athena don't feel that way
"He's a cool kid, you just get to know him. You get used to being around him. A couple weeks ago he missed practice because he was sick and you feel differently when he's not around because he brings humor and life to the team," says Athena basketball player Levar Goff.
Jason's accomplishment on the court was nice, but he's not done yet.
"If Jason gets a high school diploma, that will be my biggest success."
Jason said that when they lifted him up on their shoulders after the game he felt great...kinda like the way he made everyone around him feel. He wants to dedicate that game to all the graduating seniors at Athena.
Keep in mind that it does no harm to give just a small hint as to where this story is set.
I'd think Greece, except the kid's name is Jason...
The Florida Gators could have used this kid last night.
...and the Argonauts?
With some searching I found, Rochester, New York, so apparently it took place there.
McElwain mobbed by teammates.
The video is amazing. His teammates go nuts. The crowd goes nuts. And a couple of hundred people swarmed all over this kid when the game was over. Way cool.
For more on this story from on the AP wire:
Autistic team manager show skills on floor
BEN DOBBINAssociated Press
Jason McElwain had done everything he was asked to do for the Greece Athena High School basketball team - keep the stats, run the clock, hand out water bottles.
That all changed last week for the team manager in the final home game of the season. The 17-year-old senior, who is autistic and usually sits on the bench in a white shirt and black tie, put on a uniform and entered the game with his team way ahead.
McElwain proceeded to hit six 3-point shots, finished with 20 points and was carried off the court on his teammates' shoulders.
"I ended my career on the right note," he told The Associated Press by phone Thursday. "I was really hotter than a pistol!"
In recent days, McElwain's phone has hardly stopped ringing. When his family went out for a meal, he was mobbed by well-wishers. A neighborhood boy came by to get a basketball autographed.
McElwain, 5-foot-6, was considered too small to make the junior varsity, so he signed on as team manager. He took up the same role with the varsity, doing anything to stay near the sport he loves. Coach Jim Johnson was impressed with his dedication, and thought about suiting up McElwain for the home finale.
His performance was jaw-dropping: 20 points in four minutes, making 6-of-10 3-point shots. The crowd went wild. "It was as touching as any moment I have ever had in sports," Johnson told the Daily Messenger of Canandaigua.
McElwain didn't begin speaking until he was 5. He lacked social skills but things got easier as he got older. He found many friends and made his way through school in this Rochester suburb, although many of his classes were limited to a half-dozen students.
And he found basketball. On the varsity, he never misses practice and is a jack-of-all-trades.
"And he is happy to do it," Johnson said. "He is such a great help and is well-liked by everyone on the team." Even though McElwain was in uniform for the Feb. 15 game, there was no guarantee he would play - Athena was battling for a division title.
The fans, however, came prepared. One section of students held up signs bearing his nickname "J-MAC" and cutouts of his face placed on Popsicle sticks.
The Trojans opened a large lead against the team from the nearby Spencerport. With four minutes left, McElwain took the court to deafening cheers.
The ball came to him almost right away. His 3-point shot sailed completely off course, and the coach wondered if he made the wrong move. McElwain then missed a layup. Yet his father, David, was unruffled.
"The thing about Jason is he isn't afraid of anything," he told the newspaper. "He doesn't care what people think about him. He is his own person."
On the next trip down the floor, McElwain got the ball again. This time he stroked a 3, all net.
He was just warming up.
"As soon as the first shot went in that's when I started to get going," he said.
On the next attempt, he got another 3-pointer. Then another, and another. In fact, he would have made one more 3, but his foot was on the line, so he had to settle for 2 points.
Greece Athena won 79-43, and pandemonium reigned. McElwain signed autographs, posed for pictures and was hoisted by his teammates.
The Trojans begin sectional play Saturday and McElwain will be on the bench again, wearing his usual shirt and tie.
It doesn't bother him. More important, he said, is "trying to win a sectional title for the team."
McElwain will soon be done with high school basketball, then enroll in business management this fall at Monroe Community College.
"I'll go on to college and I'll try to hoop there," he said. "I just love it, it's one of the greatest sports in the world." source: http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/13944468.htm
Oh, thank you for posting this. I saw it on the news and it brought a tear to my eyes.
With such a large lead and still pouring it on at the end (including a buzzer beating 3 pointer), I suppose the libs would accuse the coach of "running up the score".
That doesn't mean anything. I think Jason from the Argo was from Greece.