PHILADELPHIA — At the moment he put pen to paper, elation swept over Kevin Grow's face.
The 18-year-old Bensalem High School (Pa.) student was all smiles Monday, as Grow signed a ceremonial two-day contract with the 76ers. But before Grow was allowed to ink his deal, Sixers coach Brett Brown had a question for the young man.
“Can you play defense?” Brown asked.
“Play defense?” Grow responded. “Yes.”
“I say we give him a three-day contract,” Brown said.
Grow's legend has been well documented in the last 10 days. He's gone from four-year varsity manager to unlikely basketball star. Grow has Down syndrome and, before subbing into a Feb. 8 game against Neshaminy, the Owls' regular-season finale, he had only used his hoops knowledge from the sideline.
Then he scored 14 fourth-quarter points in rapid succession. Grow started with a layup, before knocking down four of five 3-point attempts, including one as time expired. His teammates emptied the bench and mobbed Grow at the opposite end of the floor, sending him out in style.
“It's a grounding effect when you see something like that,” Brown said directly to Grow. “Everyone's proud of what you've done.”
Video of Grow's feat has been featured on ESPN's SportsCenter. Highlights of the game that had been posted to YouTube is approaching 600,000 views.
Grow's father, Earl, credited his son's Bensalem peers. Earl Grow said video of his son's accomplishments were uploaded to the Internet less than 60 minutes after that Feb. 8 game, and others used Facebook and Twitter to call attention to the highlights. A day before the game, expecting a magical moment, students used the social media platforms to encourage Grow's classmates, teachers and therapists to attend.
“It's a demonstration of the power of social media,” Earl Grow said. “This doesn't happen five years ago. I don't think so, at least.”
The christening of Grow's contract did not end with Monday's press conference.
He toured the team's practice facility at PCOM, grabbed some team gear, had dinner in the players' lounge and joined the team at the end of its practice. He met with four players prior to practice. One of them, Pennsbury High product Lavoy Allen, joked with Grow about a rivalry between their Bucks County high schools.
Before the Sixers' game Tuesday against Cleveland, Grow's tenure with the Sixers will take another turn. He'll get a jersey, have a stall in the locker room, jog down the high-five tunnel and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Sixers during the National Anthem.
“It was exciting enough for him to suit up and actually go on the floor with his teammates,” said Dorothy Grow, Kevin's mother. “That would've been enough for us.”