Matthew Hammond faces a lot of challenges both on and off the court.
But with the help of his coaches, his teammates and his parents no challenge is too big for him to overcome.
“Our son Matthew Hammond, lives with the challenges of autism,” says father Henri Hammond.
In eighth grade, Matthew told his parents Flo and Henri that he wanted to play basketball at Westminster high school.
“Coach Standiford completely embraced our desire. He talked to us, he consoled us and he said you know what next year, Matt’s on the team,” mother Flo says.
“We allow everybody to come out and play you just have to be an active participant,” says coach Grayson Standiford.
Matt played on the JV squad his freshman, sophomore and junior year of high school.
This year, his senior year, he was a member of the varsity team.
When the Crusaders took on Catholic of Pointe Coupee in a playoff game, Matt made a free throw shot that everyone, including the opposing team, couldn’t help but cheer for.
“At the end of a game, a playoff game that we’re winning at home, packed crowd and you know him make a free throw, you’re going to be excited,” said Standiford.
“When he made his shot at our playoff game, got hyped, it was awesome,” said teammate Alex Murray
While Matt may have autism, he isn’t treated any differently than the other players.
“He gets in trouble like any other member of the team,” Flo Hammond said.
Standiford adds: “You have to work hard, there’s no free rides.”
Teammate Braylin Henry says: “He still plays like he’s just like anyone else on the court.”
And because of that, Matt, his parents, his coach and his teammates know that he can face any challenge that comes his way.
“Everything we do, at least in my opinion, everything we do is for him,” Henry says.
“It has made him feel like ‘I can be anything, I can do anything,” Flo Hammond said.
“I would like to tell them to thank you for helping me and believing in me that I can do better,” Matt says.
Matthew was accepted into Nicholls State and starts classes in the fall.
He hopes to be part of their Bridge to Independence program.