Editor’s note: This article is part of a series this week where we are looking back at prominent human interest stories that we published in 2023. This story was published in January.
Two days, two heartwarming surprises for Jimmy Downey that captivated countless people.
A senior at Marine City Cardinal Mooney High School, Downey spent all four years of his high school tenure as a manager with the basketball program, the last two on varsity.
On Jan. 24, Cardinal Mooney head varsity basketball coach Mike McAndrews decided to surprise Downey with some appreciation for all he has done.
Video courtesy of Mike McAndrews.
As can be seen in the video above, McAndrews called the entire team around Downey for a special ceremony. “I wish all of us in every phase of our lives had the commitment and the dedication that Jimmy Downey shows us every single day,” McAndrews said to the team. “Doesn’t get an opportunity to do anything other than be a part of the team and he thrives in it.”
At that point, McAndrews presented Downey with his own jersey, and his teammates mobbed him to celebrate.
But wait, there’s more.
The next day when Cardinal Mooney hosted Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, Downey was surprised further when he was informed that he not only would play in a game for the first time, but he would start.
So Downey got to hear his name called and run out to high fives during introductions.
Later in the game, with Cardinal Mooney holding a comfortable lead, Downey was fouled in the final minute in a situation that was prearranged, according to the Port Huron Times-Herald.
McAndrews asked Cranbrook head coach Matt Gump before the game that if the situation presented itself, if the team could foul Downey intentionally.
Gump and Cranbrook obliged, and Downey got a chance to shoot two free throws.
“And that’s what high school sports is about,” McAndrews told the Port Huron Times-Herald. “He understood the moment.”
He missed the first, but with the crowd chanting “Jimmy! Jimmy!” he rolled in the second to raucous cheers.
To view a video of the moment courtesy of the NFHS Network, watch below.
Video courtesy of the NFHS Network. Jimmy Downey of Marine City Cardinal Mooney makes a free throw, much to the delight of the crowd and teammates.
Following the game, he was once again mobbed by fellow students and teammates in celebration on the court.
“Today, they showed that they really appreciate me,” Downey said to the Times-Herald. “And that felt really good. This opportunity and everything was really cool. I appreciate it a lot.”
McAndrews told the Times-Herald that he came up with the idea a couple of weeks ago, and it turned into a night few will forget.
“We wanted to make sure we did it (during a home game) so that his classmates could come,” he said. “The gym was rocking for Jimmy tonight. It was a special night for him and for us.”