GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Special Olympics of Michigan basketball teams are preparing for the upcoming state finals at Calvin University on March 21.
On Saturday morning, the teams continued their practice with a pleasant surprise from NBA champion and Grand Rapids Drive co-owner, Ben Wallace.
Wallace spent time with the athletes, sharing a special message of perseverance, signing autographs and taking photos.
"Having this place right here where these kids can call home and come here to play basketball [is great]," he said.
Prior to arriving in the gym, Wallace was given a tour of the Special Olympics sports and inclusion center, which is now the old South Christian high school.
"This gives them a place to show their passion for the game," Wallace added. "It's amazing feeling to be able to come here, stand here in front of them and let them know if you work hard anything is possible."
It's a day the athletes won't forget for a long time.
"I watched him win the championship," smiled athlete Justin Kregel referring to the 2004 NBA championship, "I remember sitting on my couch and watching him and cheering the Pistons on."
"It meant a lot to me because i never met a NBA player like that," athlete Justin Lorenz said, "it meant a lot to me, being in Special Olympics and him rooting for our team, I really appreciated him showing up to be here."