Lane is a very empathetic and creative child who loves science, making movies and building space stations. He is also on a basketball team.
Lane likes to say things like, “I’m not very athletic,” and “I’m not really into sports.” At recess, he will always play imagination games instead of soccer or football. At home, he is working on colonizing Mars.
Yet, he is on a basketball team and this is the second year in a row that he is on the Pistons. When he does play basketball he loves to cheer on his teammates and to look at the scoreboard when he runs down the court. For most of the season, he treated the ball more like a hot potato, passing it to his teammates as soon as he touched it. On a rare occasion, he would shoot the ball. He usually played half of each quarter. He never scored. Despite that, he is a good sport and very happy to be on his undefeated team comprised of other boys who are very much into sports and perhaps even play on traveling basketball teams.
Saturday was the last game of the season. The Pistons were ahead 29-0 just shortly after half time when something changed. Suddenly, Lane had the ball and tried to shoot. He missed. Within moments, his teammates passed him the ball again. He shot and missed. The ball was rebounded by the other team and they ran down the court. When they resumed offense, I heard it from his coach, “Lane, get it to Lane.” And they did. Over and over again.
“They’re giving the ball to Lane, “ I said. “They want him to score. “
For the rest of the game, Lane stayed in, and Lane took every shot he could. Every play was set up to get him the ball. When they were taking in it from out of bounds, the ball was bounced to him. Taking it down the court, it was thrown to him. Every rebound passed to Lane.
He must have shot the ball 20 times. Each time it was close, but it never went in. Each time we all held our breath and cheered him on. Each time he kept trying. He didn’t give up. And neither did his teammates. No matter how many times he shot and missed, they still passed him the ball. Every. Single. Time.
It was the best game Lane has ever had. For the first time in his life, he was the star of his basketball team. Afterward, he said it was incredible. “I love my team,” he said. “They are the best team ever. And my coach is amazing too. I can’t wait to play with them again next year.”
They lifted him up and cheered him on. They believed in him and did not give up on him. I was so proud of those boys and how selfless they were in an effort to make Lane feel valued.
Thank you, Pistons and Coach Rooney. He’ll remember that game for the rest of his life. And so will I.