Rochester's Owen Groesser Receives Award, Shows Off Dance Moves with Globetrotter
Harlem Globetrotter visits Van Hoosen Middle School to present a special award to eighth-grader whom Twitter propelled to ESPN SportsCenter fame.
These days, it's hard to find someone around Rochester who isn't talking about Owen Groesser.
And on Friday morning, students at Van Hoosen Middle School in Rochester Hills, where the eighth-grade basketball player's fame all began earlier this week, were given proper credit for all of the hoopla.
"This is all because of you all," said Buckets Blakes, a member of the Harlem Globetrotters who visited the school to present a special "Junior Phenom" award to Owen and the school community.
"This is an award that celebrates great spirit and bringing people together," Blakes said.
It all started Wednesday night when 13-year-old Owen sank two three-point shots in his two minutes of playing time during the last home game of the Van Hoosen basketball season.
It was the first time Owen, who has Down syndrome, had taken the court this season. Almost immediately, a trending social media campaign was born, as students began tweeting "#GetOwenOnSportsCenter." The tweet picked up momentum and resulted in a video of Owen's 3-pointer being a highlight on ESPN SportsCenter's Top Plays.
On Friday, Blakes told the crowd of 860 middle schoolers that he was in his hotel room on Wednesday night when he saw Owen's shot as part of the network's daily "Top Plays" feature.
"I was so happy when I got the call to come here," he told the crowd, who gathered in the school's gym.
On Thursday, Owen and his dad, Chris, appeared on ESPN to talk about the game and the SportsCenter moment. They've appeared in countless local and national newspapers and TV interviews.
"What a great thing that you embraced Owen and you embraced the entire country," Blakes said.
He can dance, too
Though Blakes showed off his signature Globetrotter moves — including a half-court "granny shot" — it was Owen who was the star of the assembly on Friday morning.
When Blakes invited questions from the audience, the students actually wanted to know more about Owen.
"What's your favorite color?" one student called out.
"Pink and purple," Owen answered.
"Who taught you to shoot the 3-pointer?" a teacher asked.
"My dad — in the driveway," Owen replied.
Then, the crowd chanted for their classmate to dance. In fact, he taught Blakes his signature move, which the two then performed together.
"You guys are an incredible school, the way you've embraced each other, the way you support each other," principal Michael Behrmann told the crowd. "It says a lot about you as students."
Karen Groesser is Owen's grandma. She drove from Traverse City on Thursday to take part in the festivities surrounding her grandson's newfound fame. She was among several family members who attended the assembly Friday morning at Van Hoosen.
"We are just thankful," said Karen Groesser, who calls Owen her "one and Owen-ly" grandson.
"The world needs this message — Downs kids are all about love."