It’s not about whether you win or lose, for some it’s just about getting to play at all.
Mitchell Marcus is the Team Manager for the Coronado High School Thunderbirds in El Paso, Texas, and although he is developmentally disabled, his coach Peter Morales insists, “[Mitchell] far surpasses everyone here when it comes to love of the game.” Coach Morales feels no shame in admitting Mitchell is his favorite on the team. He says,”He’s just an amazing person that our basketball team loves being around.” And it’s because of Mitchell’s devotion to the game that Coach Morales told him to “suit up” for the last game of the Thunderbirds’ regular season. According to CBS News, “Just wearing a jersey was enough for Mitchell, but what he didn’t know — what no one knew at the time — was that the coach planned to play him at the end, no matter what the score.”
It was a dream come true for the Thunderbirds’ manager, Mitchell was sent in with only a minute and a half left in the game. Coronado was leading by only 10 points, but Coach Morales said that he was prepared to lose the game “for his moment in time, yes.” The crowd started chanting “Mitchell, Mitchell,” but no matter what his teammates did to help Mitchell get a basket, every time he had the ball he either missed, or sent it out of bounds. Which is what happened on the Thunderbirds’ last possession, turning the game over to their competitors Franklin High School with only seconds left on the clock. Coach Morales said, “He wasn’t going to be able to score, but I was hoping that he was happy that he was just put in the game.” But what happened next would change everything.
Franklin High School senior, Jonathon Montanez had the ball and was standing on the sideline preparing for the last inbound throw of the game. When the referee blew the whistle, he shouted Mitchell’s name and then threw the ball right to him for “one of the most memorable turnovers of all time.” Johnathon said, “I was raised to treat others how you want to be treated. I just thought Mitchell deserved his chance, deserved his opportunity.” And Mitchell took the opportunity Johnathon gave him, turned, and made a clean shot.
Franklin was behind by 15 points when the game buzzer sounded, and although Mitchell didn’t make the game-winning shot his success, and the amazing sportsmanship shown by both Jonathon Montanez and Mitchell’s teammates means that both teams walked away with a win.
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