Clay Warner has worn his basketball uniform to every single one of his high school games, waiting on the bench for his chance to play – but until last week, he had never been called onto the court.
The 18-year-old senior plays defense for the Comets team at North Polk High School in Iowa. Though he has been called the “heart and soul” of the team, his coaches have never brought him into play out of concern that he would get hurt.
This is because Clay is legally blind – even when he wears glasses. His mother says that he was born as a “micropreemie” with cerebral palsy at just 23 weeks old, although he manages to aim for the basketball hoop by focusing on the right corner of his glasses.
So in lieu of the high school’s Senior Night last week, Clay’s coach finally called him onto the court during the final minute of the game. With the audience already giving him a standing ovation, Clay got into position as the crowd cheered him on.
“I wanted to get him in. It was Senior Night,” the head coach told WHO-TV in the interview below. “If there’s an opportunity that presented itself, I wanted to take it advantage of it. All the players were for it, too.”
Once the game was back in play, one of Clay’s teammates passed him the ball – and though he has been shooting hoops since he was in third grade, this was the first time he had ever taken a shot on his high school basketball team.
As the crowd waited with baited breath, Clay took the shot and sank the ball clean through the net, barely touching the rim – and the spectators erupted in wild cheers.
“This whole gym was yelling my name,” Clay told the news outlet. “Everything, both benches were jumping. The whole crowd was going crazy. It was like I was a little kid again.”
(WATCH the footage below) – Photo by WHO-TV