When Kevin Won

When Kevin Won

From A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul

When Kevin Won

Maturity begins to grow when you can sense your concern for others outweighing your concern for yourself.

John MacNoughton

If you had to choose one word to describe Kevin, it might have been “slow.” He didn’t learn his ABCs as fast as other kids. He never came in first in the schoolyard races. However, Kevin had a special rapport with people. His smile was brighter than the sun in June; his heart bigger than the mountain sky. Kevin’s enthusiasm for life was quite contagious, so when he discovered that the pastor at his church, Randy, was putting together a boys’ basketball team, his mother could only answer, “Yes, you may join.”

Basketball became the center of Kevin’s life. At practice, he worked so hard you’d have thought he was preparing for the NBA. He liked to stand in a certain spot near the free-throw line and shoot baskets. Patiently, he stood there throwing ball after ball after ball, until finally it would swish through the hoop. “Look at me, Coach!” he’d yell at Randy, jumping up and down, his face just glowing with the thrill of it all.

The day before their first game, Coach Randy gave each player a bright red jersey. Kevin’s eyes absolutely turned to stars when he saw his—number 12. He scrambled himself into the sleeves and scarcely ever took it off again. One Sunday morning, the sermon was interrupted by Kevin’s excited voice. “Look, Coach!” He lifted his gray wool sweater to reveal his beautiful red jersey to God and everyone.

Kevin and his whole team truly loved basketball. But just loving the game doesn’t help you win. More balls fell out of the basket than into it, and the boys lost every game that season by very large margins, except one. .. the night it snowed and the other team couldn’t make it to the game.

At the end of the season, the boys played in the church league’s tournament. As the last-place team, they drew the unfortunate spot of playing against the first-place team— the tall, undefeated first-place team. The game went pretty much as expected, and near the middle of the fourth quarter Kevin’s team stood nearly 30 points behind.

At that point, one of Kevin’s teammates called time-out. As he came to the side, Randy couldn’t imagine why the time-out had been called. “Coach,” said the boy. “This is our last game and I know that Kevin has played in every game, but he’s never made a basket. I think we should let Kevin make a basket.” With the game completely out of reach, the idea seemed reasonable, so plans were made. Every time Kevin’s team had the ball, Kevin was to stand in his special spot near the free-throw line and they would give him the ball. Kevin skipped extra high as he went back onto the court.

His first shot bounced around but missed. Number 17 from the other team swiped the ball and took it down to the other end scoring two more points. As soon as Kevin’s team had the ball again, they passed it to Kevin who obediently stood in his place. But he missed again. This pattern continued a few more times until Number 17 grew wise. He grabbed one of the rebounds and instead of running off down the court, he threw the ball to Kevin who shot. .. and missed again.

Soon, all the players were circling Kevin, throwing the ball to him and clapping for him. It took the spectators just a little longer to figure out what was happening, but little by little people started to stand up and clap their hands. The whole gymnasium thundered with the clapping, hollering, chanting, “Kevin! Kevin!” And Kevin just kept shooting.

Coach Randy realized the game must be over. He looked up at the clock which was frozen with 46 seconds left. The referees stood by the scoring table, cheering and clapping like everyone else. The whole world was stopped, waiting and wanting for Kevin.

Finally, after an infinite amount of tries, the ball took one miraculous bounce and went in. Kevin’s arms shot high into the air and he shouted, “I won! I won!” The clock ticked off the last few seconds and the first-place team remained undefeated. But on that evening, everyone left the game truly feeling like a winner.

Janice M. Gibson

as told to her by Re v. Steve Goodier

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