Ben Thornton is dribbling a basketball in Arizona these days, but the sound of the ball pounding the hardwood floor brings him back to Berkeley and a time that changed his life. He was 12, and playing hoops for the first time competitively when his mother, Angel, let out a gasp as Ben fell out of his wheelchair.
Her instinct was to run on the court to help her son, who lost the use of his legs as a toddler. Coach Trooper Johnson, she recalled, “looked at me like, get off this court right now.” Ben’s teammates helped him up.
“For my mom to see that when I was so young was kinda scary,” Thornton said. “I remember enjoying it because it got me out of my bubble of being a shy kid.”