Senior nights across the country have a special place in high school athletics, as one last moment to applaud those who have given so much to the school at one final home game. Tuesday night, members of the Eastern (Sardinia, Ohio) boys basketball team went a step further on their own, taking the time to honor a beloved classmate.
Peyton Murphy is a student at Eastern High School, living his life with multiple disabilities he has had since birth. He and his buddy, Cory, make it to every Eastern home game.
“He loves basketball,” Nathan Murphy, Peyton’s father, told WXIX. “He probably would have been a star basketball player.”
Before the Senior Night game against Peebles, the team gave the boys autographed basketballs, the Warriors’ way to say “Thank you.”
“I knew this was our last home game – this is the last game they’re going to watch us play. I knew this would be more than just a game,” Blake Rigdon, a basketball player and Peyton’s classmate, told WXIX.
Peyton, who communicates through the tablet affixed to his wheelchair, will be at Eastern for one more year after his friends graduate.
But he has quite the keepsake by which to remember his high school buddies.
“No matter if you win or lose, knowing that you made somebody have a good time there that can’t be on the court with you – it’s just one of the best feelings ever,” said classmate and basketball player Jacob Diener. “Even if he does have a disability, you look past that. It doesn’t change who he is. He’s still one of us.”
“It doesn’t take much to make people feel included,” Nathan Murphy said. “It’s huge.”