Greece Athena to retire J-Mac's jersey

Updated: 12/20/2013 6:09 PM
Created: 12/20/2013 6:39 AM WHEC.com

Jason J-Mac McElwain captured the hearts of Rochester nearly eight years ago. The basketball manager with autism who transformed into an inspiration player will be honored.

Rochester knows the nickname, J-Mac and people across the country know that nickname because of four minutes and 19 seconds. During that span, Jason McElwain, the Greece Athena Basketball manager, who has autism, scored 20 points in his first and only varsity game. He was hot as a pistol. Nearly eight year later, he's still that hot. On Friday night, the number 52 J-Mac wore will be retired.

J-Mac said, “Everything was going in and I was just hot as a pistol that night.”

Jim Johnson, Greece Athena Basketball Coach, said, “When is the last time you have heard of anyone, whether it's Lebron James or anyone score 20 points in four minutes, it just doesn't happen. Then add the fact he had never played, he is our manager, he is learning disabled, he has autism. It's a fairy tale.”

And that's just the first chapter of this fairy tale. Jason McElwain's magical night sweep the nation off its feet, a Story so compelling that President George W. Bush had to meet J-Mac.

The latest chapter is 52, the jersey “J-Mac” wore will be retired Friday night before Greece Athena's game. His 52 is the second number retired in Trojan history and will hang next to John Wallace's 44. Wallace went on to star at Syracuse and play 11 NBA seasons. 

J-Mac said, “Retired jersey next to John, who is a former NBA player, 11 years in the league, it is unbelievable.”

J-Mac is only half the story. Head coach Jim Johnson's compassion putting Jason into the game jumped started this journey. Their bond continues to this day on the Athena sideline as head coach and assistant.

Johnson said, “He has taught me so much about going after your dreams and never giving up.”

J-Mac said, “We never tolerate mediocrity in each other, we never tolerate mediocrity in our players.”

Jason's dream is to become a high school or college coach since graduating Athena in 2006. He has coached AAU and Athena Basketball.

J-Mac said, “I'm trying to teach young men life lessons that not everything will go your way on the court. You always have to play present you always have to live present.”

There's always another layer with J-Mac. He is now a marathon runner. His personal best three hours and 46 seconds. Come April 21 of next year, he's hoping to break three hours at the 2014  Boston Marathon.

Is there any doubting him? Coach Johnson never did and after this school year, he will retire from physical education to start an autism foundation.

Johnson said, "This young man has inspired me so much I want to give something back to autism.”

J-Mac said, “It just shows how great of a person he is, how successful a person he is.”

An unbreakable bond, forged beyond those four minutes.

J-Mac said, “Don't ever give up. It goes to show when your number is called, you have to give it everything you have for how many minutes you are on the court.”

The ceremony will take place before Athena's game against Fairport at 6:45 p.m. J-mac's teammates from that 2006 team will be there and it is a sell out.


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