A nine-year-old boy who suffers from cerebral palsy was able to attend a satellite camp this past weekend, where he met the current Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team.
But it was one player in particular who helped turn it into a lifelong memory.
Rylan May was in attendance for the camp, and when he arrived, current Kentucky freshman Aaron Bradshaw took May under his wing, talking to him one on one and taking photos with him.
May has had to go through numerous surgeries, including one where he had to learn how to walk again.
“But he had a major back surgery called a rhizotomy which is basically where they go in, and they cut the nerve endings that were damaged by the cerebral palsy, and he had to re-learn to walk, re-learn to sit up, he went through months and months and months of rehab, and it was tough, you know, watching him go through that,” Rylan May’s father, Michael May, told A Sea Of Blue.
“He was very stubborn, he didn’t want to take the pain medications, and he’s always been kind of finicky when it comes to medicine, so he got through it okay, and man, he’s doing great. He plays soccer, he plays basketball, and he’s no different than any other kid.”
One of the reasons why Rylan became a fan of basketball is due to his older brother, Mason May, playing basketball, and Rylan became a basketball manager this past year for the team.
“He was kind of the team manager, so to speak, this year,” May said. “The team actually gave him a jersey with his brother’s number two, and he sat on the bench with them a lot. He’s been to a lot of AAU events with this following basketball with Mason.
“And you know in his mind Mason is the GOAT. You know he’s kind of the guy that made that Rylan looks up to.”
As to what Rylan’s favorite part of being a basketball manager is:
“Just to be able to learn more about the players and stuff,” Rylan says.
Now to the satellite camp, as this wasn’t the first time Rylan’s family went to the camp. They’ve gone in years past, and Michael has one unforgettable story from Rylan that they’ll never forget.
“A few years ago, I had signed my son Mason up for one of the satellite camps in Elizabethtown, and at the time, Rylan had had surgery on his legs, and he had to wear casts on both legs at the time, so he couldn’t really walk around, We went to that camp, and I’m lagging him around with those casts on, and a lot of the players at that time which were like PJ Washington, Tyler Herro, Quade Green, Nick Richards. Kenny Payne was there.
“They were all inquisitive about, you know, why Rylan had those casts. And you know what was going on, and even then, you know he was a huge fan of Mason playing ball, so he wanted to follow behind him. We went to the camp, I took him there, and you know they all autographed his casts, and I still actually still got them in in the curio cabinet there, and you know that was really special for him to be able to do that,” Michael says.
Michael signed his son up to go to this year’s camp, and once he got there, his dad believes that Rylan became a fan of one player, and that was Bradshaw.
“So as soon as the players came in, he immediately runs over and is interacting with them, and I guess he just took the liking to Aaron Bradshaw. At that point, I think Bradshaw kind of reciprocated it, too,” Michael says. “Later on that day, Bradshaw was shooting the ball, and I stopped him and I said, ‘Man, I just want to let you know, I’m a fan of yours way beyond you playing basketball I’ve watched you today interact with all these kids not just my own. And never lose that trait, because you have really impacted these kids today.’”
Rylan also adds that he really enjoyed the camp.
“It was good, I had a lot of fun,” Rylan says.
One of the favorite moments for Rylan was when he won three prizes which were some socks, a poster signed by Jamal Murray, and game-worn signed Chris Livingston shoes. With the help of Bradshaw and Kareem Watkins, Rylan was able to win those prizes.
“A lot was going through my head. Like I was excited. It was fun hearing them cheer me on,” Rylan says.
Michael has been around a lot of the former Kentucky men’s basketball players, but Bradshaw stuck out to him after the interaction he had with Rylan.
“Aaron really cared, and one statement that he told me that really stuck out about Rylan when I explained to him that he’s got cerebral palsy, and he said, ‘That kid can do anything. There’s nothing that can stop him.’ And that made a dad feel good,” Michael says.
As for future goals and aspirations for Rylan, he wants to go see Bradshaw play this upcoming season.
“To go watch Aaron Bradshaw play and sit court-side at a game,” Rylan says.
Hopefully, Rylan can complete his future goal by going to see Bradshaw play this upcoming year, but thanks to Bradshaw for making this kid live out his dream for a day.