Matt Grimes is, for lack of a better term, The Man. When Matt sets a goal, he works hard to achieve it. Over 20 years ago, Matt underwent a number of surgeries on his neck and back. He was told he may never play basketball again. Since then, Matt has come back on and off the court. In 2007, Matt was on a team representing Special Olympics USA at the World Games in China. Matt says “It was the best time of my life.” Matt was also on a team that played in the TD Garden at half time of a Celtics game. In that game Matt went off, hitting 3 NBA three-pointers and picking up some well-timed assists. The crowd roared in support.
Off the court, Matt has a landscaping job “I mow lawns and do other work. I also help take care of my grandmother.” he said. Matt’s father and grandfather introduced him basketball, but Matt also plays softball, flag football and track & field with Special Olympics.
In a couple of weeks, Matt will be heading to Toronto, ON Canada to put a check mark next to another one of his goals. When he learned of the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports® Basketball game, he set a goal for himself – make the team. Before Matt’s grandfather passed away, he promised him he was going to do everything he could to make the team that plays at the NBA All-Star Game each year. After a national search conducted by Special Olympics Inc. Matt was one of only four athletes from the US chosen to compete. Along with 11 other Special Olympics athletes from across the world, Matt will play with current WNBA and former NBA stars in the fifth annual competition. The game will take place on Saturday, February 13th as part of the 2016 NBA All-Star weekend.
Check out Matt’s application video:
Matt’s coach, former Special Olympics North America Coach of the Year, Jenn Walsh told SOMA “Matt is humble but very friendly.” Walsh highlighted Matt’s incredible story, “Matt did not let that (surgery) stop him and he trained and worked hard until he was able to play again!” adding “Matt not only came back but he is an excellent basketball player and teammate!”
When Matt found out he was selected to the team, he said “Thank you very much! I think I might go out and celebrate tonight.” His humble nature shined through when he added “Can you let them (Special Olympics selection committee) know I am thankful too?”
Congratulations to Matt and the other athletes selected to compete in Toronto.