He has been called “the heart and soul of North Polk” by the announcer of the Schools Basketball team and “a kid who loves the game of basketball more than anyone I’ve ever met,” by Coach Nick Wilkins. He is 18-year-old Clay Warner and he had been waiting for this moment his entire basketball career; He had dressed for every game, had suited up for every practice, but until Friday night — senior night ― he had never clocked even a minute on the floor in a varsity basketball game for the Comets. And yet the gymnasium at North Polk High School in the tiny town of Alleman, Iowa, population 432, was already giving Clay a standing ovation before he even set foot on the court.
Clay Warner was born with cerebral palsy, and was legally blind. The reason he didn’t play before that game was his coaches were concerned he would get hurt. He couldn’t always see the hoop, so when he took a shot he aimed for the rim of his black-framed glasses instead. He couldn’t always see the ball, so teammates threw him bounce passes instead of chest passes. Yet still he hustled onto the court when he was told he could enter the game.
After the other team sank a pair of free throws, Warner was already waiting in position downcourt, anticipating a pass before North Polk had even inbounded the ball. The North Polk point guard brought up the ball and everyone knew where he was going. He dribbled it right up to Warner and tossed him the ball in the bottom right corner, 15 feet out. Warner took a dribble. Then came the pullup jumper. “Clay Warner with the shot …” the announcer said as it hung in the air. A perfect high arch, it pierced through the net, barely touching the rim on its way down, and the place erupted. “AND IT’S GOOD!” the announcer yelled. The North Polk bench was jumping in the air, screaming like they just clawed their way out of a nail-biter with a last-second shot. The other team’s players stood and clapped, too.
That is the description of the moment when Warner got to live a dream that every young basketball fan should have. A wonderful moment that you can read more about in your Good News Story of the Day here. They also have a video to watch in the link.
There’s no moral or lesson to this story Today, just something to make you smile in the middle of a February ice event. Enjoy the day and carry that smile throughout.
Story and Image from The Washington Post.