Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help improve the quality of life for children battling life threatening and chronic illnesses, partnered up with VCU to announce an inspirational signing by the VCU men’s basketball program.
On Thursday Oct. 23, Morgan Vega, 17-year-old Henrico native currently battling cerebral palsy got the ultimate birthday present, becoming the newest member of head coach Shaka Smart’s basketball program. In a press conference located in the Siegel Center Media Room, Vega was ceremoniously welcomed to the team by Smart and the 2014-15 men’s basketball roster alongside his mother Shelley and 7-year-old brother Gabriel. Smart presented Vega with a National Letter of Intent. With the help of his mother, Vega signed the official document making him a member of the No. 16 ranked team in the country.
“One of the things we look for in recruiting is people with a lot of enthusiasm,” Smart said. “We want to have an enthusiastic program filled with enthusiastic people and I think we’ve found a very enthusiastic person.”
After the signing, Vega was greeted by his newest teammates, taking pictures and receiving official VCU basketball apparel.
Vega was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a non-progressive movement disorder, a few months prior to his second birthday. His mother said that Vega is both verbally and cognitively on par for his age and he is very social. Vega is also able to control his power wheelchair on his own accord.
“Morgan is a young man that has certainly been through some adversity but he’s got a great attitude, a great smile, he loves VCU basketball and we’re excited about having him here,” Smart said.
Vega said in an official statement that joining the VCU’s men’s basketball team would be the best birthday present he has ever received.
“I think it’s a good reminder to our players that there are a lot of people out there who look up to them,” Smart said. “I think for our guys it’s a humbling reminder of just the perspective that’s out there and the reality that in our small world of VCU basketball, there’s a lot of people watching what we’re doing.”
This is the second time in the 2014-15 Team IMPACT has partnered up with VCU. This past August, the VCU women’s field hockey team announced the signing of four-year-old Lauryn Lewis, who was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Lewis was presented a National Letter of Intent as well making her an official member of the head coach Laura Baker’s field hockey club.