There is a video you have to see, and it’s at the end of this article. But you have to know the backstory for your heart to swell as big as it should.
We reported this story on StyleBlueprint Nashville last weekend and the story has been picked up by national media outlets and is trending on Facebook. It’s such a wonderful moment of pure joy. But most people are only seeing the video and to fully appreciate it, you need to know about the moments leading up to this amazing shot and all the people that came together to make this special moment happen. No matter where you live, you will get misty eyed!
In the feel good story of the week, Franklin Road Academy in Nashville, TN, had its basketball team manager, Robert Lewis, dress out for Senior Night. FRA was playing the University School of Nashville basketball team, which Robert’s younger brother, Matthew Lewis, plays on. Robert has Down syndrome and is part of FRA’s Heart to Heart program, which offers full inclusion of students with Down syndrome. Robert has managed FRA’s soccer, football and basketball teams throughout his high school career. As his mom, Judy Lewis, says, “Robert can fill a water bottle like nobody’s business!”
Early last week, John Pierce, FRA varsity basketball coach, told Robert that he wanted him to dress out for Senior Night. As excited as he was to dress out, no one knew if Robert would actually play. His parents were thrilled that this was not only happening, but happening on a night when FRA was playing USN.
The Lewis’ oldest son, now graduated, also played on the USN basketball team. So a love for basketball runs deep in this family. With their youngest now a junior on that team, and then their middle son set to dress out for Senior Night for his school, FRA, Friday night was shaping up to be a big night for their family. Knowing they wanted to preserve this memory, they asked talented film student Jeffrey Malkofsky-Berger to come and record the game. Little did they know how the story would unfold.
With 90 seconds left in the game, and FRA holding a healthy lead, Coach Pierce called Robert up to play. As USN saw that Robert would go in, they tapped his younger brother, Matthew, from the bench to sub in and guard Robert. As you watch the video, Matthew is number 42. Matthew made sure to give his older brother room and encouraged him to shoot.
Robert missed his first attempt, but with just five seconds left in the game, he sunk a three pointer. USN’s Isaac Eskind was the first to hug him and then the gym exploded with all the students streaming down and cheerleaders on both sides crying tears of joy.
“There was a lot of love in that gym — from both sides,” said Judy Lewis, Robert and Matthew’s mother.
FRA won the game 64-47, but we all know that all the players and spectators were the true winners. Of all the wins and losses these two teams have faced over the years, this game is one they will be talking about for decades to come. This game showcased for all a story of sportsmanship, brotherly love and integrity.
Congratulations, Robert, Matthew, FRA, USN and a tip of the hat to you, Coach Pierce. Thank you all for showing us heart and soul.
If you see the hashtags #brotherguardingbrother and #robertforthree, you now know what this is all about!