Today in 2006, a basketball story that’s almost too perfect for words: a high school team put its manager into the game, and he not only played, he stole the show.
This is the story of Jason McElwain, known as J-Mac.
He was a 17 year old at Greece Athena High School in New York, not far from Rochester.
McElwain was diagnosed with autism at age two; he didn’t speak until he was in grade school.
What he did do was play sports.
McElwain’s parents took him to the bowling alley, the golf course, and especially to the basketball court, where he would shoot and shoot and shoot.
He also became, as one student put it, a kind of basketball encyclopedia along the way.
While J-Mac didn’t make the basketball team in junior high or high school, coaches created a job for him: a student manager, where he did everything he could to help the team.
Finally, at the end of the basketball season in his senior year, McElwain’s coach, Jim Johnson, decided to have him suit up for a night and join the team.
When McElwain subbed in, the home crowd roared; some people even had little masks with his face on them.
His first shot was a miss, but a minute later his team was back in position.
They passed J-Mac the ball, and he hit a three-pointer.
But his night was just getting started.
Teammates kept passing him the ball, and he kept shooting.
By the final buzzer McElwain had hit six three pointers and one field goal, 20 points in all.
The crowd rushed the court and teammates put J-Mac on their shoulders.
Meanwhile, another student who’d been recording the team’s formations decided instead to film J-Mac’s shooting, and that video went viral.
McElwain ended up heading to the White House; he met sports stars of all kinds, and he wrote a book about his unusual story.
But again, his story wasn’t done.
He took up running, and finished the Boston Marathon in under three hours.
And he’s worked as a coach, inspiring and teaching student athletes with his knowledge and experience – and demonstrating it sometimes too.
Last summer he went to Iowa to coach at a basketball camp, and he started playing a scrimmage.
All of a sudden, he started hitting shot after shot. Again.
If you’re looking to slow life down a little in these hectic times, maybe a trip on the Glacier Express would be to your liking?
It’s called the “world’s slowest express train,” which is actually not bad when you know that the eight hour trip takes you through all the stunning scenery in Switzerland.
And you can take it all in, thanks to the big glass windows on each side.
The game nobody could forget (ESPN)