You can never have too many friends, or hear too many inspirational stories. This weekend one of my close friends sent me an unbelievable story about a special high school basketball team manager in Atlanta. The story made my jaw drop, my heart warm and my gooses bump. Here it is.
This year, the Pace Academy basketball coach, Sharman White, wanted to send his high school seniors off with a memorable ending. All of his seniors.
Before the last home game of their regular season the coach circled up his team, and thanked senior team manger Daniel Lucke for his faithful loyalty to the team. He then surprised Lucke by announcing that he would be suiting up for Senior Night.
The team went crazy for Daniel. They cheered, hugged and encircled him. Clearly this was a guy the rest of the team really loved. And now, in the last game of his senior, the manager was going to get to wear a team uniform, just like the rest of the players on the team.
And this is what happened…
The Pace Academy Knights proceeded to dominate their opponents from The Lovett School. Which also happens to be the alma mater of my friend Adam Nelson, who won the Olympic Gold Medal in the shot put in Athens in 2000. (Apparently having a Gold Medalist shot putting alum doesn’t help your team dominate in basketball a couple decades later. #gofigure)
With 1:30 left in the game, and the win assured, Coach White did something he will never forget. He called Daniel Lucke’s name. And the told the faithful team manager that it was his turn to play.
All of Danny’s service, sacrifice, support and unselfishness over the past 2 years got him 90 seconds of playing time in the last game home game of his senior year. It was a dream come true. But the dream wasn’t over.
Rising To The Occasion
With just seconds left in the game, Danny was passed the ball under the opponents basket, and quickly dribbled up court. After crossing the half-court line, Danny executed an NBA-caliber crossover dribble, behind his back! The move left the poor defender guarding him flat on his bumski. And the crowd went wild.
Then, Danny dribbled to the top of the key, and launched a 3-point shot just before the final buzzer. The whole crowd held their breath, and watched as the final shot of the game arced through the air. And into the basket.
The crowd went cray-cray. The student section poured onto the court, surrounding Danny, and completing a dream-like finale to the team manager’s high school basketball experience.
Here is a video of both the announcement that Danny would suit up, and the final play of the game.
Videos of D-Lucke’s buzzer beating shot immediately went viral. The story made news outlets across the country. Within hours, the video had been seen by millions of people. And the world had one more great inspirational story to share.
Danny The Kid
Danny is a great kid. I’m not just saying that because his coach said that. Or because his teammates and classmates obviously loved him. I know Danny.
The person who sent me Danny’s story was his Mom, my close friend Stephanie Herbst-Lucke. She is a fellow University of Wisconsin track athlete. And she is one of the most giving people I know.
Stephanie currently serves as the President of Wisconsin’s W Letterwinner’s Club for Wisconsin Alumni athletes, where she stands out as a special person among special people.
I feel lucky to know the Luckes. Jim and Stephanie are great people. They have clearly taught Daniel and his older sister’s Katie and Maddie well. They selflessly serve others. And when you do that, great things happen. Thank you Coach White for making this happen. And for setting the stage for such a wonderful life lesson.
Be like Daniel Lucke. Give unselfishly. Help any way you can. Lean in. Participate. Invest in your relationships. And prepare yourself for the opportunities that come your way.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.