(CBS News) – A 10-year-old Missouri boy who is battling cerebral palsy got the opportunity of a lifetime to join his favorite basketball team. Gavin Porter was drafted by the Washington University Bears.
Gavin was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after he had a stroke shortly after his birth. He has overcome challenges in life, but nothing could stop him from shining on the basketball court when the team officially made him one of theirs last month. His mother, Mia Malcolm, told CBS News that the team has been “amazing” with him.
“They cheer for him and make him feel like he’s 1,200 feet tall. Like he’s a giant,” Mia said. “For me, as his mom, it’s been really special to see him so happy.”
The St. Louis Children’s Hospital helped Gavin and his family navigate through his young life. Mia credits his nurses for being there for her and calls them the “loves of her life.”
“They saved him, and I think more important they kind of saved me,” she said. “They took care of me on all of his super horrible, super hard days. They continue to take care of us.”
As part of his care and therapy at the hospital, his team recommended he watch sports that have plenty of actions to strengthen the muscles in his eyes. That’s when he fell in love with basketball.
Mia, who is originally from Cleveland, says her son is a fan of “whatever team LeBron [James] is on,” but his heart belongs to Washington University in St. Louis. About a year ago, he began attending games and practices and the team embraced him. The team held an honorary signing day with him in November, and he received his own locker, playbook and practice gear.
Bears head coach Pat Juckem recalled the moment Gavin stood in the locker room after he joined the team. He told CBS News \ Gavin looked to his mother and softly told her: “Mom, I’m a star.”
“This is his team,” Juckem said. “He’s an absolute inspiration to us.”
Gavin’s mother is thankful he was able to have an experience like this.
“I don’t know what his life is going to look like later,” Mia said. “So I don’t know if he would ever have a moment like this. So for them to have this, and for him to be celebrated like this for just being a kid and just being cool is so amazing.”
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