At the Thunder, we’ve become accustomed to hearing wonderful stories from our community and across the world about how our team and our players have impacted fans. Here is one of the most inspirational and touching.
Emmanuel Mavridakis is a 13-year old Thunder fan from Montreal. Prior to July 6, 2013 he admired the Thunder and Kevin Durant from north of the border in Canada. He watched every game and adapted Kevin’s style to his own style of playing basketball.
On July 6, his life drastically changed, but his spirit, courage, resilience and passion for the Thunder did not. On that day, he was hit by a speeding car as he was riding an ATV. His helmet flew off his head as he flew 75 feet in the air. He was rushed to the hospital with severe head and spinal trauma. After waking up from a week in a coma, he was told he had a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down.
During the eight months Emmanuel was hospitalized, Durant heard of his situation and his love of the Thunder. KD sent him a signed jersey, photo and a greeting to keep up his spirits. That jersey hung over Emmanuel’s bed and it’s the first thing he would point out to doctors, nurses and anyone who came to visit. It was sacred and his parents joked that no one was allowed to touch it. He wore his KD shirt every chance he could.
When Emmanuel came out of his coma, his father made him a promise. He would get his son to a Thunder game as soon as he could. Friday night in Toronto, this brave young man’s dream came true. Prior to the game vs. the Raptors, Emmanuel sat courtside in his wheelchair, watching the Thunder warm up. Coach Brooks, players and staff stopped by to meet this courageous kid and his parents. And, of course, he got to meet Kevin, who presented him with a special surprise, a game-worn pair of shoes.
“I will walk again and will play basketball again,” he promised us. His ultimate goal is to play in the NBA. “…of course, for the Thunder.”
With this young man, NOTHING would surprise us.
Here’s a brief video comment we got from him before the Friday night game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.