Updated: March 04, 2020 07:21 PM
Created: March 04, 2020 05:42 PM
Josh Speidel was a standout player who was recruited by the Vermont Catamounts out of high school. However, he was in a terrible, near-fatal car crash that left him with a traumatic brain injury before he could play a game.
Recently, Vermont asked UAlbany for help with a plan.
"Coach Brown approached us about four days ago about the possibility of us doing this, and he was obviously immediately on board, and we were all how can we help and make this a possibility for this kid," said UAlbany player Sasha French.
Tuesday night, five years after his crash, he walked out onto the court with his family in Vermont to join his team.
Speidel started this one. Each one of his teammates touched the ball.
UAlbany players hung back, leaving Speidel clear.
Thanks to both teams, Speidel was able to score his first collegiate basket.
Tears were flowing after this united show of support for Speidel and his perseverance.
The crowd went wild.
"It shows you that it's bigger than basketball, it's bigger than the sport you're playing. That this has a bigger impact than sometimes you can grasp," said French.
"So for us to play a small role in all this, I think it was special and I think it was something our players really embraced, which made me proud as a coach. To watch our players react when he scored the basket -- we had guys jumping on the sidelines. The guys that were on the court all went up and either gave him a high five or gave him a hug," said UAlbany Coach Will Brown.
Josh Speidel had been in a coma for months. They didn't think he'd talk or walk again. Yet here he was, back on the court. He called it a dream come true, and said he couldn't be happier.
Coach Brown said he's gotten emails and messages from people he doesn't know, from all around the country, praising how his team took part, and he calls Josh an inspiration.
This is the best of sports, and it's even bigger than basketball.
The coach says this was the first time in his career that he's ever been excited when an opponent scored against them.
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