Amy Donaldson: Remembering those moments in sports when we were reminded to be better people
'THE OWEN' MAKES SPORTSCENTER »1 of 6 «
Owen Groesser's family just wanted him to have friends. They wanted him to feel a part of something. So his mother asked the Van Hoosen Junior High basketball coach if the eighth-grader with Down syndrome could be the team's manager. The coach said yes.
As the season progressed, players noticed that Owen looked like he wanted to play. And finally, the coach decided they should design a play just for the basketball-loving boy. It was called the Owen, and when the team ran the play, Groesser received a pass on the perimeter and then made a choice — drive to the basket or shoot a 3-pointer.
His mother was nervous when Groesser made his first appearance in a game last January. His father took out his iPhone and shot a video of the original 3-point shots that made Groesser a star at school and his teammates an inspiration around the country.
Within hours of Groesser hitting two 3-point shots in the team's penultimate game of the season, his friends used Twitter to get the attention of ESPN's Sportscenter. They used the hashtag #getowenonsportscenter, attached to the video, and it went viral. Politicians and professional athletes joined the effort and Groesser's 3-pointers made the program's Top 10 Plays.
The next day, Groesser suited up again, and in front of a much larger crowd, he scored another four points. ESPN's "Outside the Lines" did a piece on Groesser and the campaign to put his first career points on national television, and what quickly became clear is that by giving the 14-year-old a moment in the spotlight they taught us all a little about the power of inclusion.
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