14 March 2006
President Bush has met with the autistic manager of a Greece, New York high school basketball team, after the 17-year-old inspired people across the country by scoring 20 points in four minutes in his only game.
Jason McElwain was born with the little-understood developmental disorder autism, and did not talk until he was five. The 1.67-meter senior was considered too small to make the team at Greece Athens High School. But he loves basketball and has served as the suburban Rochester team's manager and motivator.
Coach Jim Johnson allowed him to suit up for the team's final home game of the season, and with the game safely in hand, put him in with four minutes to play. McElwain shocked the crowd by scoring 20 points, including six three-pointers and was carried off the court on his teammates' shoulders. A student video of game highlights was shown on the national news.
On the way to speaking at a Tuesday Medicare event in Canandaigua, New York, President Bush, who had seen the story on TV, stopped to meet McElwain. The president called him "a special person," saying Jason's amazing story had "touched the hearts of citizens all around the country."
The attention has generated calls from more than 25 movie production companies, ranging from Disney and Warner Brothers to independent documentary filmmakers.