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Wheelchair basketball in the Paralympics

Credit: Kidsday illustration / Jasmine Alicea

Wheelchair basketball was originally developed in 1946, but only added to the Paralympic Games in 1960. Meant for athletes who have a physical impairment that prevents running and pivoting, two teams of 12 men or women— five on court — play with the same measurements and hoop height as in a game of able-bodied basketball.

In 2012, my family attended the Paralympic Games in London to support a close family friend, Steve Serio. Steve was on my dad’s wheelchair basketball team when they were younger, before Steve became a Paralympic athlete. That year the United States men’s team took home bronze — their first time medaling since 2000 — after Canada and Australia.

Steve had a spinal tumor removed at 11 months, resulting in being paralyzed and classified as an incomplete paraplegic. He made his Paralympic debut at the 2008 games, in Beijing. That year, the U.S. team finished in fourth place.

The 2012 Paralympics were riveting and full of excitement. My family eagerly awaited to attend, and watched with eyes peeled the whole time. I lost my voice that week from cheering so much. At the end, Team USA was announced the bronze medal winner, and my family was ecstatic.


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