Grant Adams has never let Down syndrome stop him from making his teammates better. On Senior Night, they showed him how grateful they are.
VANCOUVER, Wash. — At Evergreen High School in Vancouver, boys varsity basketball coach Brett Henry is big on drawing up the right plays for his team.
“It’s bigger than basketball,” Henry said. “It’s bigger than the wins and losses.”
In that same vein, Henry’s players know they’re more than just teammates.
“They’re my brothers, they’re my family,” said junior Jayce Gallant.
“Family is who you feel connected with and who gives you that loyalty and that love,” added senior Tae Lee.
Maybe no one in the Evergreen basketball family shows more loyalty and love than senior Grant Adams.
“Grant just holds a lot of weight around the school,” Lee said. “He’s just, he’s No. 1.”
Grant was born with Down syndrome. He’s always loved basketball and has played on a Unified Team which partners with Special Olympics. But Grant’s skills are more advanced than many may have realized.
“He can definitely shoot,” Henry said.
Last fall, Grant made the Evergreen boys varsity basketball team, with the understanding that his main job would be helping his teammates get better during practice.
“Anytime that I would have a bad play, Grant would come over and cheer me up,” Gallant said. “Sometimes he’d let me know what I got to do.”
Grant is proud of his role on the team.
“Stay on it and get back into it,” said Grant, recalling some of the advice he often shares with teammates.
In return for Grant’s dedication, Coach Henry wanted Grant to feel encouraged, too. He drew up maybe his best play ever for Senior Night on Jan. 13.
“I approached the other seniors and asked them what their thoughts were on letting Grant start with them,” Henry said. “They were all for it, without hesitation.”
That night, the announcer called Grant’s name and he ran through a tunnel of cheerleaders and high-fiving teammates.
“Grant’s never been able to play with us,” Lee said. “So to finally be able to see Grant on the court with us just made it super special.”
Evergreen played Battle Ground High School. At tipoff, both teams knew how special the next few moments would be as everyone on the court made sure Grant got several opportunities to shoot the ball.
“We could all tell he was nervous but he was hyped,” Gallant said.
After missing a few attempts, it happened. Grant got the ball, made sure his feet were behind the three-point line, and let it go.
“Grant Adams for three!” screamed the announcer as everyone in the stands cheered wildly.
“It warmed my heart a lot to see Grant make that basket,” Lee said.
“I focused,” Grant recalled. “I made the shot!”
It’s a moment Grant’s parents said they’ll never forget.
“There aren’t words to describe the elation,” said Grant’s mom, Nichole Adams. “Cause you know that he’s out there doing what he loves to do.”
“We just want to thank everybody,” added Grant’s dad, Aaron Adams. “We know that this didn’t have to happen and they made it happen.”