Autistic Teen Lauded By Teammates On Long Island Basketball Team
KINGS PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It was a moment one mom could only dream of, but then, the crowd started to chant her son’s name and the dream became reality.
It is the story of Nicholas Grippo, a Long Island special needs student, who became a local hoops hero after hitting a buzzer beater.
The crowd chanted his name and the cheerleaders joined as his teammates guided him into position.
Grippo shot the ball, which hit the bottom of the net.
The crowd erupted.
Grippo is #33 and the player everyone rooted for. He is a 13-year-old autistic teen and is playing team sports with his peers for the first time at William T. Rogers Middle School.
“It has been amazing for him. They’ve taken him under their wing. They’re accepting. They’ve just been so fantastic. They’re accepting and they’re his friends now,” his mother, Denise Grippo, told CBS 2’s Vanessa Murdock.
She said for someone with autism, that’s a really big deal.
Coach Todd White was instrumental in making Nicholas a part of the team. In fact, he designed a play just for him called the “Nick play.”
“We ran it at the end of every practice,” White said.
“I like the Nick play,” Nicholas Grippo said. “Me, Jack and Frank run the Nick play.”
“It just felt happy, not a lot of kids who have autism like Nick — they’re not gonna get that chance and he just had the happiest face you could ever see. It was just great,” teammate Jack Cutillo said.
“I was crying. I was crying. It was just amazing,” Denise Grippo said.
“It’s been a special time. He made everyone laugh and smile,” added teammate Paul Cooper.
And one of the many reasons why is probably his dancing.
Nicholas’ favorite dance is the conga. So after every home game the team does the conga line into the locker room.
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