When young teen Jamarion Styles of Boca Raton, Florida approached his middle school basketball coach about trying out for the team, the coach was encouraging—but definitely skeptical.
His concern stemmed from the same reason that other kids never picked Styles to be on their pick-up teams at the park; when Styles was just an infant, a rare bacterial infection left doctors forced to amputate both of his arms to save his life.
He jokes that he should be good at soccer, but he’s actually pretty terrible—and his passion is basketball, anyways.
Determined to prove he could overcome his obstacles, the teen was told by his coach to show up at try-outs. And although he spent most of the season on the bench, Styles made the team, practicing harder than anyone else despite his lack of minutes.
This was hardly a surprise. When he had first approached the coach, Styles had admitted that he was fine if they never put him in a game. All he wanted, he’d explained, was to be a part of a team—something that he’d never been able to do before.
In the middle of one game, though, the coach did something surprising; with just minutes left on the clock, he put Styles out on the court.
He ran with his teammates, and when he was open they passed him the ball. Then, with everyone watching, he did something amazing; with the crowd yelling at him to shoot, he managed to sink a three-pointer!
Later in the game, he followed it up with a second three-pointer, and it was like the dam had broken. Now, he says, he gets picked for teams at the park all the time, and he hopes that he can translate his spot on the freshman high school team to a spot on the varsity roster one day in the future.