Jason “J-Mac” McElwain

Jason McElwain, nicknamed “J-Mac” (born October 1, 1988), is an American with autism who made national news in 2006 when he played for four minutes during a high school basketball game and scored twenty points.

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Jason "J-Mac" McElwain

McElwain was diagnosed with autism at a young age.  He didn’t begin talking until he was 5 and still lacks social skills; however, he has learned to cope well in his teens, said his special-education teacher, Diane Maddock.  McElwain had a passion for basketball, so Greece Athena High School basketball coach Jim Johnson appointed him manager (a.k.a. “motivational water boy”) of the team.

On February 15, 2006, Greece Athena was playing Spencerport High School for a division title.  Jim Johnson decided to add McElwain to the roster, so J-Mac could be given a jersey and sit on the bench for the team’s last home game of the season.  Greece Athena got a large lead, so Johnson decided to let McElwain play in the last four minutes.  It was his first and only appearance for the Athena varsity team in this Rochester suburb.  After initially missing two shots, the 5-foot-6 McElwain made six three-point shots and one two-pointer.  The final score was Greece Athena 79, Spencerport 43.  As soon as the final buzzer rang, the stands erupted and stormed the court in celebration.  J-Mac was carried off the court on his teammates’ shoulders.

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“It was like a big old bucket and I was just hitting them like they were free throws,” McElwain said.  “I just felt relaxed.”

The coach couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“He’s been my right-hand man, he’s there every day and just getting him the opportunity to suit up was emotional enough for me,” he said.  “For him to come in and seize the moment like he did was certainly more than I ever expected.  I was an emotional wreck.”

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McElwain met President George W. Bush on March 14, 2006, when Bush stopped by a nearby airport, so he could meet McElwain.  Standing next to McElwain, Bush went on to praise him, saying “Our country was captivated by an amazing story on the basketball court.  It’s the story of a young man who found his touch on the basketball court, which, in turn, touched the hearts of citizens all around the country.”  Bush also claimed that upon seeing McElwain on television, he “wept, just like a lot of other people did.”  Bad-asses make presidents weep. Quarterback Peyton Manning visited and invited McElwain to the Colts’ training camp for a week.  He accepted.

J-Mac Bobble-head

J-Mac Bobble-head

McElwain threw out the opening pitch for the Rochester Red Wings’ game against the Charlotte Knights.  The Red Wings also gave away 3,500 free bobble-head dolls that were modeled after McElwain.

McElwain even won an ESPY Award for the Best Moment in Sports in 2006.  To win that award, McElwain beat out Kobe Bryant’s 81-point-game and the George Mason Patriots’ run to the Final Four.  Who does that? A bad-ass mo-fo. The speech that Jason gave upon winning the award was about dreams coming true.  In addition to the many celebrities McElwain met, he also appeared on various talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show (what the hell is up with bad-asses ending up on Oprah?), Larry King Live (an oxymoron), Good Morning America, and Today.

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In 2007, Topps trading cards produced a Jason McElwain card as part of its retro-themed Allen & Ginter set.  In 2009, he appeared in a Super Bowl commercial for Gatorade as part of their “What is G?” ad campaign.

Following his rise to fame, Jason McElwain wrote a book titled The Game of My Life (2/5/2008).  The 256 pages long book is written mainly by Jason, but includes sections written by his family, coach, and teammates.  Editorial reviews were left by celebrities such as Magic Johnson and Doug Flutie.

Because he played in just one regular-season game, McElwain was ineligible for sectional play.  But he’s not bothered.  “I just want to win as a team, not individually,” he said.  What’s more, he prides himself on having a lot of friends.

“I’m not really that different,” he said.  “I don’t really care about this autistic situation, really.  It’s just the way I am.  The advice I’d give to autistic people is just keep working, just keep dreaming, you’ll get your chance and you’ll do it.”

J-Mac with young autistic boy

J-Mac with young autistic boy

In April 2006, it was announced that Columbia Pictures had bought the rights to produce a film about McElwain.  He also travels across the United States to help raise funds for autism, because he is a bad-ass savant.

Here is a video with J-Mac’s bad-ass performance: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-818944862742874918

Here are the source links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_McElwain and here: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=2348397

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3 Responses to “Jason “J-Mac” McElwain”

  1. I love this guy. I saw the video of his final game eons ago.

  2. brethren Says:

    great post…this kid is truly a “big-ass-bad-ass”.

  3. JMAC will speak at one of our events this year and I’m sooooo looking forward to meeting him!!

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