Special Olympics Pennsylvania #50for50: James Shelton

#50for50: Volume 45
▪️ James Shelton
▪️ 30 years old
▪️ Philadelphia County

“Basketball? Oh, wow. I love basketball. Every time I seen it on TV when we were young — my favorite player was [Allen] Iverson, I liked his moves and everything — I was like, ‘I gotta find something to get into basketball ’cause I know I can play basketball.’ Next thing you know, I’m a basketball player. I heard about Special Olympics ’cause I go to a program where we hang out, go to the mall and stuff and just be active and talk instead of sitting around. We go to the gym. And someone there told me about it and asked what’s my favorite sport? One time we went to a picnic and there were some players from Temple [University] there. I was shooting the ball back and forth and they said, ‘If you make this 3-point shot, I’ll give you one of my team jerseys.’ Next thing you know, I jumped up, shot the ball and ‘bam!’ it went right in. I said, ‘who’s the best now?’ and he gave me a team jersey and every time I see that jersey I be so happy. … I live right by Kensington. It’s just too crazy to be walking around here. People on drugs, people laying on the sidewalk. Homeless people. Seeing people out here like this is so sad. So I just be in the house and make my ride to go somewhere or go chill with my girlfriend. They be shooting around here, too. All this stuff on the news. That’s why I don’t walk around. If I want to go somewhere, I catch paratransit. It’ll take me anywhere I want to go. Every time I get on, they be so happy to see me. I know how it works out here. I’m not trying to do nothing bad. That’s why I got Special Olympics. … When we were young, we used to be around my dad the whole time. Then, OK, my mom left the earth but grandma took us in and then I don’t know. We was going back and forth with grandma and then daddy, but for some reason daddy disappeared. He was still around, but we just didn’t see him. Then a few days later, like right now, my cousin called me and said my sister’s on Facebook. And my dad, too. And I thought, ‘do I really want to look him up? It’s been so long since I’ve been seeing you or said your name.’ So I was just calm and everything and I just said, ‘Let me see.’ I just went on and said ‘hey daddy,’ and we all got in contact back again. That was it. It felt good, talking about it. Just get it off your chest or something. You want to tell people what happened, what’s going on. … I got friends everywhere I go. It’s not hard to make friends with me. I get along with anybody. I’m nice, calm. I don’t like to fight or do drama. I’m good. And I’m funny, too. I get some stuff off of TV. And I just tell it to somebody and they start laughing. I like Martin, that’s like my No. 1 laughing show right there. So if I meet somebody, I be like, ‘Yo, what’s up?’ and we start cracking jokes and we start laughing and next thing you know, we’re friends. There was a cookie club in school where we made chocolate chip cookies. I like to cook. They were buying them cookies like crazy. I said, ‘You know why they’re buying them like this? Cause I made them!’ You know how people out here got different emotions? Some people hate people, some people like people. You know how it is. I see all this stuff going on in the world, so I’m like ‘Nope, that’s not me.’ I’m not a bad person, I’m a good person.”

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Special Olympics Pennsylvania

The mission of Special Olympics Pennsylvania is to provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

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