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Matthew Grimes was part of the Special Olympics team taking part in the NBA All Star game. He is shown second from the left in the front row wearing number 32. Contributed photo

Milford Special Olympics Lives
NBA Dream
Matthew Grimes was in Toronto, grabbing a drink in a store during NBA All-Star weekend when someone shouted "Hey Grimsey."
The Milford native turned around to see the person calling to him was none other than eight-time All-Star Steve Nash. "I didn't know what to say," Grimes said, recalling the celebrity shout out.
Grimes, an intellectually disabled 29-year-old basketball junky, lived out his dream of playing the NBA as one of a dozen Special Olympics athletes from around the world selected to take part in the league's All-Star festivities. He filled out an application, put together a video, and ended being one of only three Americans on the team.
"We went to the All-Star practice, we went to the all star game and met some of the players," Grimes said, adding that he was able to get selfies with Nash, Tracy McGrady, Steph Curry, among others.
Grimes said his love for basketball comes from his dad and his late grandfather, who are also huge fans of the sport. 
"I found out I got picked for the game on January 22, my birthday," Grimes said. "My dad was so happy for me, he almost cried when I got picked."
Making it to the All-Star game was something he promised his grandfather he would do. Even though he passed away, Grimes said, "He was looking down on me."
And he undoubtedly liked what he saw. Grimes scored 14 points in the game, which was coached by Andre Drummond and Dikembe Mutombo.
"The way the NBA treated the athletes was unbelievable," said Coordinator for Special Programs for the Milford School Community Youth Program, Jen Walsh, who accompanied Grimes on the trip. "They went to the All-Star practice, the Rising Stars game, the All-Star game, they stayed in the hotel with the legends. They had them there for five days. They showed them a great time and everyone was so kind."
Grimes said he enjoyed meeting the past and current All-Stars as well as getting the chance to see the NBA greats practice, but his favorite part of the experience was playing in the game with his own teammates.
"It was great, I made a new a lot of new friends," he said. "I was a little nervous, but I got over it once the game started. I couldn't believe how many people were at the game.
"I worked really hard to get there, and I proved people wrong," he said. "They told me I wouldn't be able to go anywhere and I did."
Grimes works as a landscaper and keeps active playing sports, including basketball, flag football, and softball. Even after living his dream, he still has his sights set on his next big goal.
"I want to get to the Special Olympics Hall of Fame," he said. "I don't know if I am going to get there, but I am going to try my hardest."




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