WOODBURN, Ore. – Mikey Garcia is a huge basketball fan, but he can’t play for the team he loves most.
The 12-year-old Woodburn boy couldn’t play on his middle school team because he has some serious disabilities, like autism and hearing loss. His dad, Efrain Garcia, coached the 7th grade boys at French Berry Middle School.
“Playing sports for him is pretty close to impossible because of his disabilities and how fragile he is,” said Efrain Garcia. "He's was the assistant coach."
Mikey had never been able to play before. But in the team's last game of the season he finally got his chance.
"I'll probably never be able to coach him again," Garcia said. "The last time, the week before, I talked to the coaches and asked what they thought about Mikey playing. They thought it would be awesome."
With two minutes left in the game, Mikey's dad told him he was going in.
"Their team got the ball," said Garcia. "I did not know what the coach had said to the other team. Kid starts dribbling and turned around and gave him the ball."
Tanner Mannen was on the other team that day. He's a 7th grader at Neil Armstrong Middle School.
“Our coach tells us there’s a kid who has mental disabilities,” he said. “I thought maybe he could make a shot. So I gave him the ball a couple of times.”
Mikey took two shots under the basket. He missed them both.
“You know what, at least he’s gotten the opportunity to shoot, which is awesome,” Garcia said. “Chances are he won’t ever play basketball again.”
Then Tanner tossed the ball to Mikey again.
“I was thinking what if he could actually make it,” Tanner said.
“He’s been practicing,” Garcia said. “Mikey has this thing about having luck on his side, through everything he’s endured. I had a feeling that he’d make it. That third shot, he did.”
The kid who can hardly speak, didn’t need to say a thing.
“He comes running toward me, ‘I made it! I made it!’” Garcia said. “He had tears in his eyes. (I said) ‘no crying. This is basketball. We gotta be tough, Mikey we gotta be tough.'”
“He was crying," said Tanner. "It was so sweet. My heart was touched.”