Like most high school basketball players from Massachusetts, North Central Charter Essential School (Fitchburg, Mass.) senior Roman Sweeney admires Boston Celtics superstar Kevin Garnett. But, as it turns out, Sweeney himself is the true inspiration.
Playing on a pair of titanium legs and with a left arm that ends at his elbow, Sweeney made the basketball team this season and has already drained a trio of 3-pointers in his team’s first seven games, according to a story in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
“Amazing, amazing,” Garnett told reporters before Friday’s Celtics game. “He has more 3′s than I have. That’s amazing. Things like that are just simply amazing. Other than the reaction and what you see now, I have no words for that. That’s truly amazing to me.”
Adopted by Tim and Pam Sweeney from a Russian orphanage at age 6, Roman taught himself to shoot at home by balancing the ball with his right hand and the stump on his left arm, which he has nicknamed Paul for no particular reason, the T&G explained.
“It makes me feel like I’m dating Beyoncé,” Sweeney explained to the paper. “It’s the most beautiful feeling in the world. It’s my passion.”
“Wow, that’s true determination,” added Garnett. “That’s someone who really loves basketball and loves the game and living life. That’s true inspiration right there.”
In addition to basketball, the 19-year-old Sweeney climbs mountains and break dances, which is awesome, because we thought break dancing went out of style in 1984 after the premiere of “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.” He also plays tennis and pitched a perfect inning of relief for North Central Charter’s baseball team, according to the T&G.
“I don’t play just to inspire people,” Sweeney added. “I play because I love it, but obviously when I’m out there, I hope I’m an inspiration to some people. If they believe they’re not good enough, they can just look at me and say, ‘Well, his circumstances aren’t that good, but he still plays with his heart. I can contribute as well.’”
Ironically, Sweeney’s approach sounds an awful lot like that of the man he idolizes.
“Hopefully I brought some good and some type of influence to the game,” said Garnett. “I play hard enough, I put a lot into it, I invest a lot. I’ve invested a lot, I continue to do the same, and I’m enjoying it. So, hopefully somewhere in the world some people … find any type of positive or any type of something that gets them through their day. I’ve always been grateful and more than appreciative to have been able to be someone’s strength, if not a source of confidence. Of all the things in the world to be able to look at and say, ‘Hey this is what I use for confidence,’ I’m one of them, so that’s a true compliment.”