ASK anyone living in the small town of Turkey, Texas, about The Shot. Whether they saw it firsthand, read the flurry of social media posts afterward, or even heard the roar from the Valley High School gymnasium as it happened -- chances are the person you asked knows of Kobe Valdez’s three-point-jumper Monday night.
Kobe’s parents Rene and Marsha say their 16-year-old practices relentlessly, but the Junior Varsity team’s last game of the season was the only one in which he played. One of three children, Kobe was born with Down’s syndrome and over a dozen holes in his heart. Playing sports while growing up wasn’t easy for Kobe, but his physical ailments didn’t hinder his passion. Valley Head Coach Jacob Hancock knew the season finale against the Hedley Owls was going to be Kobe’s chance.
As the game began, Kobe's teammates rallied around him, chanting his name. He came off the bench in the second half. Kobe’s first shots were off – wide left, wider left, and an air-ball. But the advice of many great shooters is to keep shooting. Eventually, one goes in. The one that did was captured on multiple cameras in the stands, and so was the moment that followed: Kobe’s teammates beside him, cheering him on once again.
Kobe’s play wasn’t the go-ahead basket in the Patriots win against Hedley. But The Valdez’s say Kobe's Shot, along with the people and gestures that made it possible, won’t soon be forgotten.
(Photo Courtesy: Rene and Marsha Valdez, Shari Buchanan, Kari LaFavers Lindsey, Amanda Salazar)