The greatest high school sports story
I've ever known — surely many agree — just added another chapter.
"J-Mac" McElwain, the autistic basketball manager who was inserted into
a basketball game late and scored 20 points in four minutes back in
2006, will have his jersey No. 52 retired at Greece Athena (Rochester, N.Y.)
on Dec. 20.
As first reported in the USA Today
Greece Athena coach Jim Johnson is retiring from teaching in 2014 and
he wanted to make sure that McElwain received his due. Johnson, 54, told
us this afternoon that he still plans to coach for a couple more
seasons after retiring from teaching — Greece Athena returns seven of
its top eight players from its section championship team — and plans a
new career as full-time motivational speaker.
thinking for quite a while about retiring Jason's jersey," said Johnson,
who along with his wife Pat are visiting their son Tyler, a
post-graduate law student at Pepperdine in Malibu, Calif. "This seemed
just right. Around Christmas break. Most of the team should be around.
It just felt right."
No one has worn No. 52 for the Trojans
since that magical night when McElwain swished six three-pointers in
half of a quarter, a school record. It was his only varsity basketball
experience and his story resonated worldwide, earning him face-to-face
encounters with President George W. Bush, Oprah Winfrey and Kobe Bryant.
also struck up a lasting friendship with Peyton Manning, according to
the report. Hollywood movie producers have scrambled to gain first
rights for a possible big screen blockbuster.
But nothing could really beat the original.
story has also paved the way for other touching gestures nationwide of
teams inserting team managers and developmentally- or
physically-challenged students into prep events.
"Every time I see such a gesture I feel very good inside," Johnson said.
all well-intentioned and most emotionally moving, none could possibly
match the sheer timing, spontaneity and, of course, performance of
To now have his number retired sets a new precedent. The only other Greece Athena basketball player to have his number
retired was former NBA player and Syracuse University standout John
"As you can imagine, Jason is quite fired up," Johnson said. "That's very likely an understatement."
by the way, has transformed considerably since 2006. Standing just
5-foot-9 and weighing 140 pounds as a high school senior, J-Mac is now
6-1 and 175. He's also an accomplished distance runner, having qualified
for last year's Boston Marathon. He did that by finishing the 26.1-mile
race in 3 hours, 1.50 minutes. McElwain also has been an assistant on
Johnson's staff the last five seasons.
Johnson has written a book entitled "A Coach and a Miracle
" on the entire McElwain moment and aftermath.
"The real neat thing is that the relationship between Jason and I has continued to grow," Johnson said. "He really loves being in our program and we love having him."See all the CBS stories on McElwain here