Monday, February 27, 2006

I Don't Care If You Saw This Already...

But wow.

The story of Jason McElwain had over a dozen people stopped in our tracks at work today. I'm a sucker for feel-good sports stories, and despite all the sh*t that ESPN puts on the air, they're getting pretty good at giving us the feel-good stories. This morning's SportsCenter piece was no different.

The story has made pretty good rounds, and it's awesome if you can see the footage from the game. I almost wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it.

Jason McElwain was diagnosed as autistic at age two. He didn't start speaking until he was six. He's now considered exceptional by autistic standards, and if you could see the interview, you might not even think anything was wrong with him.

As a junior, he tried out for the basketball team, but couldn't make the junior varsity. He asked to stay on as the team manager, and never missed a practice. For games, he'd wear a shirt and trademark black tie, even though the job didn't require it.

As a senior, he was ineligible to even try out for the JV, and didn't make the varsity squad. He stayed on again as team manager. On Senior Day, Coach Jim Johnson offered to let Jason suit up for the game, but made absolutely NO promises to get him in the game.

The basketball gods had other ideas. With a 20 point lead with just under four minutes to go, Coach Johnson put Jason in. The crowd, who already knew that Jason would be suiting up, went ape-shit. They had signs made, and even had cutouts of his face to hold up.

Jason didn't disappoint. While his coach was hoping for atleast ONE basket, Jason did him five better. He scored 20 points, on six of ten shooting from beyond the arc.

He would have had another, but a toe on the line caused him to take two points for a shot. But it didn't start off so hot for Jason. He missed his first three point shot pretty badly, and missed a layup on the next possession. But what kind of story would that make?

The ESPN piece did a great job of interviewing the coach, other players, and Jason. The team captain finished the piece by pointing out that Jason had scored more points in under four minutes than he had scored all night. He added that neither he, nor Jason, will ever forget that for the rest of their lives.

We watched this at work, and literally a dozen people had gathered around the TV in silence. When the piece was over, only my boss could utter, "Holy shit...." - before people dispersed in more silence.

The only raw footage of the spectacle I could find is here with this MSNBC piece. You have to sit through a 30 second ad, but it is well worth clicking on the video link. They show the first couple of baskets, and the crowd, but the second half of the video is the first airball, and the six three-pointers. Make sure you watch this one with some sound. Mom, don't cry too much at work.

A CBS piece is here, with commentary, and a little better video quality. They have a brief cameo by the coach and captain.

If ESPN knew what was good for them, they'd show this piece again. Better yet, someone ought to create a channel where there were nothing but stories like this. I'd watch all day.


At 11:27 AM, Blogger Party Girl said...

It's a great story.

It's a good cry story.

Good cry stories are always worth hearing again.

At 2:09 PM, Anonymous lynn said...

I love that story- heard it last week. I work at a center that helps adults with autism and things like that. I'm constantly amazed at that they can do when given the chance.


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