Last Friday, as part of the “Brits on Beale” event where the British Consulate General in Atlanta was making visits throughout the Memphis community, a Unified Basketball game was played at the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center on the University of Memphis Campus. During this event, Special Olympics Tennessee athletes teamed up with members of the British Consulate General to compete in an epic Unified event that saw back-and-forth scoring and even overtime.
“That gentleman in the red shoes seems to be running the show,” said Alex Robson of the British Consulate General. That gentleman he referred to was Reggie Wilson of Memphis, a mobile scorer and playmaker on the court. Wilson does not move; he glides effortlessly like a swan on a serene lake.
Things for Wilson have not always been blissful and easy as he has struggled with being left out. He has been playing basketball since 2010 and has played Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) for several teams across the greater Memphis area. Wilson is an extremely talented athlete but never had the right place to display his talent until now. Through Special Olympics Tennessee he can put his talents on display for all to see.
On Friday, Wilson's skills shined as he was in a space where he could truly excel. With great teammates and Unified Partners, Wilson was in the zone. He created opportunities for others through shot-making and guiding his teammates toward victory. He sent his teammate, and now friend, Matthew Drumright, a dime pass and Drumwright missed the shot to which Wilson said, “Got to hit them with a pump fake.” Wilson is like a coach on the field guiding others and elevating the ones around him to the next level.
Wilson has a fearlessness about him that rivals the likes of Russel Westbrook when he’s on the court. He had Unified Partner Leon Pickett of the British Consulate General, a hulking 6-foot, 2-inch former West Georgia college football center jump right in front of him to block his shot and he ever so boldly fires away. His boldness in his style is reminiscent of the theme of the entire event.
Wilson’s style is based on his inclusive nature as he passes the ball exceptionally well and his own shot-taking ability elevates his passes. The inclusion of his teammates was elemental to his team’s overtime victory. A moment that signified this was a three-on-one attempt in which he had no one on him with plenty of space, so he pump-faked and made a brilliant pass to seal the game. His swift movements and his inclusion of others are what makes his team successful, much being a part of Special Olympics Tennessee. “Move swiftly and include everyone” are words to live by here.
Special Olympics is building a culture that embodies being “All In” in this Unified Generation. As inclusion practices are changing and evolving, the organization is rising to the occasion much like Wilson did when the lights came on at the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center.
As the year goes on, we will remember that this was one of the best Unified basketball games because it was a model game featuring athletes and Unified Partners. True inclusion was elemental to the success of this event, and it showed through the brilliant performance of Reggie Wilson.