Elias Brown signed to University of Arizona

Adamaris Olivares and Gabe Ojeda

On December 15, senior Elias Brown signed a letter of intent to play wheelchair basketball for the University of Arizona, accomplishing a dream of his that he has pursued since he started playing at the age of six.
Brown was born with a congenital deformity, where his ankle was webbed to his glute. For his parents, there were two options: getting screws on his leg to correct it, or amputating part of his leg. Around the age of two, Brown’s parents decided on amputation, and since then on, he has used a prosthetic leg to walk.
With supportive parents and friends, Brown joined a wheelchair basketball team, which differs in several ways from regular basketball. The differences include slower pacing, the need for additional team coordination, and strategy.
“I’d say it’s a slower game than normal basketball, it’s a lot more about your position and proportions of go like on defense and then on offense,” Brown said “It’s more strategy based, I think, rather than just running as fast as they can to catch everyone else off guard.”
Brown plays with the National Wheelchair Basketball Association under the Austin Texas Rec’ers playing Varsity and Division One for the Lone Star Paralysis team, and is able to travel all across the United States to play this sport he enjoys.
“It’s just not as popular with sports, it’s starting to gain more exposure, but that’s the only other thing,” Brown said.
As he continues to practice and play for his league, Brown pushes to be better, not only with wheelchair basketball but also in his academics.
Brown practices Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, and through that, he also works and attends ACC classes, graduating with 52 college credit hours along with his high school degree.
Through his academics, and his passion, Brown was able to receive multiple scholarships from Division One league teams. He ultimately decided on signing with the University of Arizona. Brown continues to stay motivated and active through playing basketball.
“I think something that keeps me motivated is definitely the appeal of having college paid for and then as well as like keeping my grades up in school because I feel like when you have an extracurricular activity like that, to keep you engaged,” he said. “It gives you a reason to like actually keep up in school so you can keep playing.”
Brown says that even playing alongside people with disabilities, to him, it still feels like a normal high school sport, just like how able-bodied people are able to participate.
“I know for a lot of people with disabilities, it’s playing a sport like a normal high school sport like you know, soccer, or whatever,” he said. “With able-bodied people, it feels kind of limiting because you are limited by your ability to how good you can be, but when you play a sport with other people that have similar physical challenges as you, it creates a more even playing field and it makes you feel like you have a community of people to be surrounded with. That’s important.”
Elias continues to be an inspiration to other students and teachers, putting his education first, while also becoming an amazing athlete.
“Elias has overcome so much in his life. His perseverance is a testament that anything is possible if you just work hard, set goals, and follow your dreams,” AVID teacher Teresa Grumbles said. “He is one of the most respectful students on our campus. I am so proud of Elias for following his dreams of playing basketball in college at a D1 school. I hope one day to be able to watch him play. He has always put his education first and it has taken him places. This goes to show any student that if you work hard, then you can accomplish anything.”
Earning this scholarship to play and further his education, Elias has motivated his fellow peers, and pushed them to be better.
“It makes me want to do my best at everything and get things done, how he did,” senior Aubrey Davis said.
Senior Kaitlyn Rangel, who attends AVID class with Brown, said she has been impressed his performance on the court and in class.
“With every challenge, it’s thrown at him like he just stays committed and determined,” Rangel said.
Through his love for this sport, and this opportunity to play, he was able to go to many places, and accomplish many things, not only when it comes to wheelchair sports, but as a student as well.
“Entering sophomore year, I had a really low GPA and now I went from a 2.7 unweighted to like a 3.3, so I worked really hard to get there,” Brown said. “But I’d say an accomplishment that has been a big deal to me it’s definitely securing those grades, especially when I knew I needed them for college and whatnot in order to get scholarship money.”
“And that is another big accomplishment, is just playing, being able to have the opportunity to play college basketball, which has been a dream of mine for a very long time.”
Gabriel Ojeda contributed to this story