UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO -- The Colorado basketball team is a family; one that got a little bigger this week.
Over the last year, 13-year-old Nicholas Nelson has spent a lot of time around the Buffaloes program.
“They’ve really opened their hearts," Nicholas' dad, Mark Nelson says of the team. "They’ve been warm and welcoming, and they treat the boys like family.”
On Friday, the Buffs held an honorary signing day for Nicholas, officially making the Louisville resident a member of their squad.
“We’re really pleased to bring Nick officially into our program, and the entire Nelson family," said head coach Tad Boyle. “They’ve gotten to know the guys, been at practices, been in the locker room after some really big wins."
Nicholas became a part of the Buffaloes program through Team IMPACT, a national nonprofit whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children facing serious and chronic illnesses through the power of team.
“What I’m looking forward to the most is going in the locker room and seeing everyone, you know saying hi to everyone and having a good time,” he said.
With signing day complete, the newest Buff got to work. He checked out his locker and hit the training room. Most importantly, when it came time to take his first shot as a Buff —he got the shooters bounce.
“I’ve been playing basketball in PE so that helped me a lot,” Nick said of his basketball skills.
Nick lives with a rare genetic condition called Williams syndrome. It can affect everything, from the brain to the body, to the heart. What it can’t touch is his love for the game of basketball, and the love for his team.
“They’re his guys," Mark says. "So now he comes to the games and he’s in every moment. He feels every bit of it. He’s excited when they’re winning and he’s bummed when they’re down.”
There have been more highs than lows this year, but no matter what -- the Buffs have each other.
“Family is something they talk about a lot," Mark says of the team. "They consider themselves a family and they consider Nick part of that family. There’s a lot of love with that team, and they’ve showed it to Nick as well.”