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Viral Video Leads To NBA Deal For Teen With Down Syndrome


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Kevin Grow, who has Down syndrome, joined the Philadelphia 76ers in a pre-game chant. The team signed Grow to a two-day contract this week after video of him playing in a high school game went viral. (Ron Cortes/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT)

Kevin Grow, who has Down syndrome, joined the Philadelphia 76ers in a pre-game chant. The team signed Grow to a two-day contract this week after video of him playing in a high school game went viral. (Ron Cortes/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT)

PHILADELPHIA — The talk of Thursday’s trade deadline will dominate anything surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers for the next couple of days, and that’s understandable, since the team is actively seeking to make a move or moves, with players Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner the centerpieces.

But for a time Tuesday night, trades, stats, wins and losses took a backseat to Kevin Grow. The Bensalem, Pa., senior, who has Down syndrome, has become somewhat of a national star. The manager for his high school varsity team for four seasons, Grow played in two games recently, including a 14-point effort in which he drained four three-pointers.

On Monday, Grow, 18, signed a two-day contract with the Sixers (“A brilliant idea by someone,” coach Brett Brown said), and he practiced with the team that day. Tuesday night before the Sixers faced the Cleveland Cavaliers, Grow had his own locker, a couple of stalls down from Sixers forward Evan Turner, complete with a No. 33 jersey, sneakers, warmups — the whole getup.

Turner, ever the locker-room jokester, made a comment that last season’s No. 33 never wore it (that would be Andrew Bynum). Grow, with TV cameras and players watching, gave a thumbs-up to his parents, Earl and Dorothy, saying, “I feel surprised.”

Grow then made his way around the locker room, greeting his new teammates, who took turns making their way over.

“We have to make sure he has to get taped and everything before the game and get him in here and watch some film and stuff,” Spencer Hawes said. “It’s good fun to have him around. For as much bad that comes out of social media, it’s good to see stories like that go viral.”

Grow was introduced by public address announcer Matt Cord as the sixth man before the game, stood in line with the players during the national anthem and was honored during the second quarter along with his other teammates, the ones from Bensalem.

Grow had an ever-present grin for the whole evening, and so did the Sixers when they were with him.

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Comments (3 Responses)

  1. Jim Halpin says:

    Saw this story on my local news (from Seattle) – cool story but once again the media was all over the pity angle using terms like “inspirational” “heart warming” “amazing” – why can’t they just say what it was – a cool story for the young man. Reminds me of a similar story a few years ago – I forget the young man’s name – but he too was the manager of a BB team in high school -somewhere near Syracuse NY- anyway he got into the game and sank 5 straight 3 pointers – again I remember the audio that went with the video – “he actually got to play in a game and what happened next was truly amazing” – no not really, the kid could shoot the hell out of a basketball- Schools of Journalism should have a mandatory class on disability stereotypes and the stigma and damage they can cause

  2. CP Lady says:

    To Jim Halpin: What is wrong with being called inspirational and amazing? I have cerebral palsy which affects my physical abilities, so many things that I do are a struggle for me. Many people have told me that I’m an inspiration to them because of what I’ve accomplished regardless of my limitations. I take that as a huge compliment since it does take extra effort for me to do almost any activity, and I’d like to think that I “inspire” others to be the best they can be. I am offended when people pity me or assumes that I must have a low I.Q. just because of my physical appearance and impaired speech; however, I’m never offended when I’m described as amazing and inspirational.

  3. Russell Grindle says:

    I am happy that this young man got his moment. I just have to ask where is the defense? The kid earned his shot with his loyalty to the team but no pretense of defending against him? Basketball is a competitive sport with loads of close blocking and feinting. Over and over Kevin is handed the ball, even when pointing to an open player. No one is ever near him. It looks pretty condescending to me.

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