“It felt like we won a championship. Everyone was so happy for me.”
Those were the words Jason McElwain – also known as “J Mac” – uses to describe the only varsity basketball game he ever played in during his 4 years at Greece Athena High School in Rochester, New York. When you hear the story of an inspirational athlete like Jason, it tends to alter your perspective on what’s possible.
Diagnosed with autism at age 2, Jason gravitated toward basketball – a game that let him express himself and his talents on the court.
Though he didn’t make the team as a player, he did choose to find a positive perspective in the face of rejection. Jason eagerly turned his love of the game into a job he was passionate about – being the team manager.
Below, ESPN tells an amazing story of how J Mac seized the moment when given the opportunity to play in a varsity basketball game.
Video courtesy of ESPN
Pretty awesome, huh? Jason’s story inspires me.
As a kid who was diagnosed with autism, did J Mac let that stop him from participating in sports? Not a chance.
Did he let it stop him from taking risks and enjoying life? Nope.
Did he face hardships along the way as a result of his autism diagnosis? Without a doubt.
Instead of letting those hardships, rejections and perceived limitations get in his way, J Mac chose to make the best of his situation. Patiently waiting for his moment, he made the best of his journey by focusing on his love of the game and devoting his time to helping the team.
Carpe diem – seize the day!
It’s pretty amazing how Jason seized the opportunity when it presented itself. Not only did he have his game face on – he absolutely killed it! He was in the zone – in flow – call it whatever you want to call it. J Mac was there.
As you can see in the video, the collective energy in that gym was pretty powerful. J Mac’s determination, positivity and passion is contagious to countless other students who felt compelled to storm the court at the final buzzer.
Though his moment on the court lasted only a few minutes, the impact J Mac’s attitude and performance had on the people in the gym – and anyone who reads his story – most definitely stands the test of time.
What’s the message behind J Mac’s story?
To me, the message J Mac is sending all of us is to be ready.
Be ready for the best moment of your life – all the time.
Expect good things to happen, even when they seem unlikely.
Instead of wishing certain uncontrollable things in your life were different, make a conscious effort to develop a consistently positive attitude toward the things in your life that challenge you – just like J Mac did.
Out of those challenges can come some of the greatest moments of your life – as long as you’re willing to take the shot.
“Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Bob and Suzanne Wright, grandparents of a child with autism. Their longtime friend Bernie Marcus donated $25 million to help financially launch the organization.
Since then, Autism Speaks has grown into the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.”