Once in a great while in our world of strife and suffering, a story comes along that changes everything — a simple tale that will have no effect on the strength of our economy or end the nuclear threat of North Korea but has still has the ability to empower each and every one of us. Such is the story out of El Paso Texas where a local high basketball game occurred that has the power to teach us all a lesson worth learning.
Mitchell Marcus is the team manager for the Coronado High School Thunderbirds. He is developmentally disabled, and he adores the sport, so when he applied for the job as team manager, Coach Peter Morales was happy to have the dedicated young man join the squad.
Over the season, Mitchell became more than just the team manager. “He’s just an amazing person that our basketball team loves being around,” said Coach Morales, who often had Mitchell join him at the chalk board to help prepare the team before a game.
To repay Mitchell for his efforts, Coach Morales had a special plan for the final game of the season. In the locker room before the team took the court for the first quarter, he told Mitchell to put on a team uniform and suit up for the game. Mitchell was thrilled to be able to wear the uniform of a player, and he walked up and down the sidelines with pride.
But what no one knew, including Mitchell, was that the coach planned to put his team manager into the game for the final 90 seconds. No matter what the score, even if it meant the Thunderbirds might lose the game, Mitchell would have his chance to play basketball in a high school game.
The game clock ticked down to 90 seconds, and Coronado was leading by a solid 10 points when the Coach signaled for time and told Mitchell to get in the game. The crowd erupted into cheers of “Mitchell, Mitchell,” and young Mr. Marcus had his moment in the sun.
Things did not go as well as we might have hoped. Although Coronado managed to increase their lead, Mitchell missed several opportunities to score a basket, and it looked like he would have to be satisfied with just having played in the game. As Coach Morales stated, “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.”
There were only a few seconds left in the game, and Mitchell had just lost a pass out of bounds under his own basket. Franklin High School’s number 22, Jonathon Montanez had the ball on the sideline, and it looked like the game would end without Mitchell making the basket of his dreams.
Then something happened that no one watching the game will ever forget, something wonderful and truly remarkable that can teach us the meaning of caring for our fellow human beings. Instead of passing the ball to his teammate, Jonathon Montanez loudly called out Mitchell’s name and got his attention. He threw the ball to Mitchell, and, with only seconds on the clock, Mitchell turned and scored a basket.
The greatest turnover in the history of basketball occurred in a Texas High School basketball game. One young man taught us all the meaning of sportsmanship, and another had a moment that will stay with him for the rest of his life. We salute all of the remarkable people involved in this story. This is an example of the individual miracles that make America the great nation we all know and love.