Blind Missourian has real feel for basketball

by: Mihir Bhagat

(KOMU) SPRINGFIELD - A three-point shootout at the halftime show of a college basketball game Feb. 15 opened eyes across the nation.

Michael Quin, a 54-year-old blind man from Springfield, stepped onto the court at the College of the Ozarks, and took a 3-point shot. That shot would later be seen around the country.

Six years ago, Quin suffered traumatic brain damage and went blind after a series of falls.

"I don't remember not being like I am. I don't really know about time or numbers, I don't read or write. What's important is I'm happy right now," Quin said.

Quin plays with Champion Athletes of the Ozarks , an organization that assists children and adults who are living with disabilities. Champion Athletes doesn't just focus on sports. Working with Champion Athletes, Quin and others have the opportunity to build skills to help them function in everyday life.

The organization traveled down to College of the Ozarks for a clinic with the basketball teams in the morning. After lunch, the athletes returned for the men's and women's basketball games. During halftime of the men's basketball game, all eyes were on Quin as he stepped beyond the arc to take the three-pointer.

"I wouldn't be there if it weren't for the Champion Athletes. They tell me and tell others that you can do it," Quin said.

Since Quin can't see the basket, he listens for cues from a guide standing below it. The public address announcer asked for the College of the Ozarks gym to be quiet so Quin could hear the cues.

"It was amazing. It got incredibly quiet. You couldn't hear a sound. And everyone watched," said Susan Miles, director of Champion Athletes.

College of the Ozarks athletic director Al Waller handed Quin the basketball.

"When I was getting ready to shoot the shot, I felt like I was going to make it. I think if you feel that way, it helps," Quin said.

Quin took the shot. Swish.

"Next thing I know, everybody is clapping. And I was so happy," Quin said. "I didn't really understand what crying was. I thought water was going to come from my eyes, I was so happy."

Waller said the College of the Ozarks will never have another halftime show like that.

"It was unbelievable. I mean, our crowd went crazy. They all stood and clapped. People jumping down, trying to giving him high-fives. It was just an amazing reaction," Waller said.

By sinking the shot, Quin won a McDonald's value meal every week for a year.

"I don't know what a year is but you know what? The fact I got McDonald's was great," Quin said.

The only video of the shot came from a fan's cell phone. But the video went viral, even earning the No. 10 spot on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 plays of the weekend.

"It's pretty amazing," Quin's daughter Jessica Quin said. "All the people at school that I talk to say 'I saw this clip of a guy shooting a three-pointer at a basketball game.' And I'm like 'That's my dad. I know him,'" she said.

Michael Quin said, "When you say how does it feel that the whole country knows it, I don't understand that. All I know is I tried my best."

It was a shot seen around the country, except by the man who took it.

Quin is getting crowdfunded assistance through Champion Athletes, via the site Never Leave Athletes Behind.

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