Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Game of My Life by Jason McElwain with Daniel Paisner

Jason "J-Mac" McElwain, for anyone who was living under the same rock where ESPN wasn't playing as I was, is the stuff of a Disney producer's dreams. Better than that, actually, for on the silver screen it would likely make grown men and small girls teary and everyone else snigger at a screenwriter's presumption. For the rest of us, it really did happen.
Jason was diagnosed as a young boy with severe autism. In high school he had come farther than his mother ever dreamed, serving as the team manager for the JV basketball team. The coach had even let him dress for the last game of the season and, with two minutes left to go in the game, put him in to play. Part of the crowd, called "The 6th Man", cheered for him, calling "J-Mac!" They had a lot to cheer about when he was called for a foul and managed to sink three free throws in a row.
This isn't the game mentioned in the title, The Game of My Life: a true story of Challenge, Autism and Growing Up Autistic. The 4 minutes that changed Jason's life happened when he was put into the game as the manager of the Varsity basketball team, and managed to score 20 points in under 4 minutes at the end of the game. The video of the subsequent news coverage is available on youtube, if you haven't seen it.
This is a remarkable book, as well as a great example of a young man devoted to his game and the friends and family who can and do speak about what basketball and Jason's achievement have meant to him in a completely realistic way.

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