I gotta give some love to local celebrity hero Jason McElwain.
Some of you who have been around here for a long time might remember the story of a Rochester kid who made national headlines when he scored 20 points in the final four minutes of a high school basketball game. It’s worthwhile to note that McElwain, or J-Mac as he’s known locally, has autism.
He had served as the team’s manager for his entire high school career. But during the team’s last home game the coach told J-Mac to suit up. If he could get a chance to put him in the game, he would.
Well … as they say … the rest is history. (I still cry like a baby every time I watch that video.)
Since that game J-Mac has gone on to do some pretty cool things. He had an opportunity to meet President Bush during one of his visits to Rochester. Peyton Manning invited him to spend a week at Colts training camp. Our minor league baseball team gave away J-Mac bobbleheads at a game where they honored him. He was on Larry King, Oprah, Good Morning America and Today. Topps issued a J-Mac basketball card. For a time, one local McDonald’s changed the name of their Big Mac to the “J-Mac.”
The spotlight really shined on McElwain when he won an ESPY in 2006 for “Best Sports Moment,” beating out Kobe Bryant’s 81 point game, and George Mason’s improbable run to the Final Four that year.
Earlier this month J-Mac’s book – The Game of My Life – was published. Columbia Pictures owns the rights to the movie. You can see him on television as part of Gatorade’s “What is G?” campaign. In addition to traveling around the country to raise awareness for autism research, J-Mac is working on getting his GED and works part-time at Wegmans, a local grocery store.
There’s been alot of talk this week about sports, and celebrity and whether or not sports celebrities make good role models and heroes. Jason McElwain is one of mine.