The Lawrence Central High (Indianapolis) seniors approached football coach Jed Richman to ask if classmate Emanuel Duncan, who has muscular dystrophy, could be a part of the team this season. Now, Richman doesn’t know what he’d do without Duncan.
“I tell everybody he’s my personal coach this year,” Richman told WRTV Indianapolis. “I wish I’d brought him on last year. The seniors did a great thing by getting him involved, and he’s just been a great addition this year.”
Duncan was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age 7 and remembers playing football before then. He can no longer play, but that makes him no less a part of the team.
Duncan can be seen throughout the ABC affiliate’s five-minute news segment, patrolling the sidelines in his wheelchair and constantly offering inspiration to the Bears, who face crosstown rival Cathedral in the Class 6A sectional semifinals on Friday night.
“I say sports really did save me, because I was really depressed in middle school, eighth grade, before I came to Lawrence Central,” Duncan told WRTV. “I was really just done, and I didn’t want to do anything, because I couldn’t do any athletics. All the girls like all the athletes, and they didn’t like me. So, I was like: If there are no girls, what am I doing here? So, then, I came to Lawrence Central. It’s really a family affair here. All the guys here, it’s almost like we’re all brothers.”
Lawrence Central classmate Bryan Rutland — the team’s leading receiver — seconded that statement, telling the news station, “He’s like a brother to me now,” before choking up.
“I know if he’s good, I’m good,” Rutland added, “because I can’t complain about anything if he doesn’t complain about anything.”