Amadeus Russo Inspires Basketball Teammates - – Rockford’s News Leader

Amadeus Russo Inspires Basketball Teammates


A local youth basketball team is winning on the court and in the huddle, demonstrating selfless teamwork to one of their own. It's an uplifting story from our community's next generation of basketball players.

It's time for a weekend practice at Harlem community center. Just ask 10-year old Amadeus Russo how it's going, and you get a resounding answer.

"Good! Good! Good!"

Amadeus has Down syndrome, but that doesn't slow him down on the court. He's a key member of what these kids call the "Dream Team."

"That's just what he is. He's another part of the team. We don't look at him as a special needs boy or anything else. He's a teammate. He brings an inspiration. A smile when he walks in the gym for practices," says coach Chad Reuber.

"I never thought the kids would welcome him as much as they have. He's been popular throughout his school, so there's always been kids that have gravitated towards him," says Amadeus' mother, Stefanie.

Amadeus' coach has worked with Special Olympians for four years, and has passed that perspective on to his players.

"They look at things as so much simpler in life. They don't worry about wins and losses or we did this or that. They're there to have fun. That's what he's brought to us this year."

Amadeus already knows what wins basketball games.


Coach has taught Amadeus and his teammates how to close off passing lanes, and open doors to those who want to get in the game.

"When you see someone with Down syndrome or special needs at all, don't look down on them, look at them and say hey buddy, how you doing?"

Smiles are frequent, joy is constant.

"It's almost as if everyone shares in it," says Stefanie. "His joy comes spilling out into the crowd, out into the other kids. It's just infectious, everyone gets a taste of what it's like to see accomplishment through his eyes."

It's a lesson in empathy and acceptance, with sport as the tie that binds them together.

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