Tyler team makes it to National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament

Tyler team makes it to National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - A group of athletes gathered for their weekly practice last night for their upcoming national tournament, and they say what they lack, makes them that much stronger.

18-year-old Jewan Pickens lost his leg in a car accident only 9 months ago; before that, he was a star football player.

"The fact that I have to get up every morning and remember that I can't walk. I make jokes about it, I try to laugh about it, so it won't be so hard," Pickens says.

Jewans' parents now drive him to Tyler all the way from their home in Louisiana every week so he can be a part of a team again.

"This is a big life change, and I don't want him to give up on himself," Jewans father, John Pickens says.

Jewan is one of eight handicap players on the Tyler Thorns basketball team, ranging from ages 18 to 50 with men, women, paraplegics, amputees, and quadriplegics.

"We are scored on a point system, so depending on our injury is how the points are added up and that determines who gets to be on the court at the same time," player Mandy Horn says.

The Thorns have been playing for several years together, but this year, their hard work has finally paid off.

They've made it to the 2018 wheelchair basketball tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, where they will compete against 16 teams in their division.

As the only female player on the team, Mandy Horn says it's important for the able-bodied community to know they play just as hard as any competitor would.

"We can do everything they can do, we play full court, we play by the same rules that they do, our baskets are the same height as regulation baskets," Horn says.

The National Wheelchair Basketball Tournament will be held in Louisville, Kentucky on April 12 through the 15.