My friend Randy Jessen tells this true story of love and kindness. It
is a little longer than our usual fare, but I think you will find it
well worth reading!
If you had to choose one word to describe Kevin, it might be "slow."
Kevin 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 bright smile and big heart won him plenty of friends.
When Kevin discovered that the pastor at his church, Randy Jessen, was
putting together a boys basketball team, his mother let him
participate. And soon basketball became a center of Kevin's life. He
worked hard at practice. While the other boys practiced dribbling and
lay-ups, Kevin shot baskets. He had a special spot near the free throw
line. He threw and threw the ball, and it occasionally went in! When
that happened, Kevin raised his arms and shouted, "Look at me, Coach!"
The day before their first game, Coach Randy gave each player a bright
red jersey. Kevin was number 12. He scrambled himself into the sleeves
and wore that jersey almost every day. One Sunday morning, the church
service was interrupted by Kevin's excited voice. "Look, Coach!" He
lifted his gray wool sweater to reveal the red jersey underneath with
number 12 on the front. Nobody minded the interruption; the church
knew Kevin and loved him.
I'd like to be able to tell you that the team did well. Actually, they
never won a game that season -- except for the night it snowed and the
other team never showed up. 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 -- boys
who had never lost a game all year.
The game went as expected, and near the end of the fourth quarter
Kevin's team stood nearly 30 points behind. It was then that one of
the boys called timeout. "Coach," he said, "this is our last game and
Kevin's never made a basket. I think we should let him make a basket."
The team agreed. Kevin was instructed to stand at his special place
near the free throw line and wait. He was told that when he was given
the ball, he should shoot.
Kevin was ecstatic. He ran to the floor and waited. When the ball was
passed to him he shot -- and missed. Number 17 from the other team
snatched the rebound, dribbled down the court for an easy lay-up. But
a moment later Kevin got the ball again. He shot -- and missed. Number
17 repeated his performance for another two points. Kevin shot a third
and fourth time with the same result.
But then the other team seemed to figure out what was going on and the
next time they snatched the rebound, they threw it to Kevin! Kevin
shot...and missed. But now every rebound came to him and he threw and
threw toward the basket.
BOTH teams had circled Kevin by this time and all of the boys were
shouting, "Kevin! Kevin!" The crowd took up the chant. Soon everyone
in the gym was shouting for Kevin! Coach Randy was sure the game
should have been over by this time and he glanced at the clock. It was
stopped at 4.3 seconds! The timekeepers were standing by their table
shouting with the crowd, "Kevin! Kevin!" The world had stopped for
Kevin. He shot and shot and finally one of his shots took a crazy
bounce on the rim and...went in! Chaos reigned! Everyone stood and
cheered as if one boy had single-handedly won a world championship.
Kevin's arms sprang up in the air and he shouted, "I won! I won!" His
team escorted him off the court, the clock ticked down and the game
That day an undefeated team retained their perfect record. But
everybody won. Everybody! Because everybody had participated in a
crazy conspiracy of kindness, a simple act of mercy, that was so
compelling, so powerful, that I'm sure all of heaven rejoiced!