BATTLE GROUND, Wash. – Josh Brewer has to work harder than most to get the ball in the basket.
“I play every day pretty much,” he said. “Two hours a day.”
But the 17-year-old has never had it easy. Once an African orphan, Brewer was living on the streets of Ethiopia when he lost both legs and one arm in a train accident as a 10-year-old.
“I was running next to it and I was trying to get up but the train accelerated,” said Brewer. “So it kind of sucked me under it. That’s how this happened.”
Half a dozen surgeries and the same number of adoptive homes later, Brewer found a permanent home with a Washington family five years ago.
Now he’s a volunteer basketball coach for a group of 5th graders in Battle Ground who share his passion for the game.
“He gives us good advice. I think it’s cool that he’s in a wheelchair and he still plays basketball,” said one of his players. “He’s good at dribbling. He’s good at almost everything.”
When he’s not coaching or playing on his traveling wheelchair basketball team, Brewer is back on the practice court.
“I started watching games seeing how it works,” said Brewer. “Then I found out there was wheelchair basketball and I was like ‘this is pretty cool and I could try for it.’ And I made the team.”
The high school sophomore said he plans to try out for the U-23 wheelchair Olympic basketball team next year. He said he knows quitting will never be an option.
"Personally, I've gone through a lot already. This is just another challenge for me to conquer and say I did it," Brewer said. "I have this motivation inside of me that if I can do it and I know I can do it, I push myself to doing it."