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Courting Friendships

, | Learning | July 17, 2013

(I am in 9th grade. Most of the people in my gym class are also in 9th grade, making us all roughly the same age. There is one boy who is several years older than us, and in a special needs class. A few bullies in the class like to make fun of him for being mostly blind and mentally challenged. I’ve been his friend for about five years.)

Me: “Hey, [boy’s name]. Want to play basketball with me?”

Bully #1: “Why the f*** would you ask HIM to play?”

Bully #2: “He probably can’t even throw the f****** ball!”

(The boy has been quietly standing off to the side, pretending he can’t hear them.)

Boy: “Sure, I love playing basketball! Can I be on your team?”

Me: “Well, I don’t know how to actually play, but we can throw the ball and try to make baskets. Here, catch!”

(I toss the ball gently to the boy, who catches it with no problem.)

Me: “I’ll let you throw first. Can you make a basket from over there?”

(The boy walks over to the line that I point at, which is pretty far away from the basket. By now, most of the class is watching.)

Bully #2: “Dude, he’s gonna f*** it up. Just watch him f*** this up.”

(The boy stands there for a minute, looking back and forth between the spot where he’s standing and the basket. Then he launches the ball and it goes straight through the hoop without even bouncing off the rim. The whole class starts applauding and cheering, and the bullies are both shocked.)

Boy: “How was that? Just like when we play at church, right?”

Me: “Yeah, it is! That was really great!”

(I give him a hug. The bullies shuffle over, looking sheepish.)

Bully #1: “Hey, man… can we play, too? I want to be on YOUR team.”

(Everybody stopped making fun of the boy after that; the bullies even started to defend him!)

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