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Lauren Lewis
BY Lauren Lewis

How a Boy with Special Needs Inspired his Team

After seeing Ellen Seidman’s article, “A teen with disabilities makes the football team” on her Blog Love That Max, I knew that MATT was a documentary I could not miss. I immediately grabbed my laptop and pressed play. After a few minutes, it was obvious that Matt was special, and not just because of the obstacles he has overcome, but because of the lasting effect that he has on everyone around him. His peers not only accept him for who he is, but they genuinely look up to him, respect him, and are inspired by him. And after seeing his story, so am I.

About Matthew

Matthew Tapia was born three months premature, weighing only a pound and a half. Doctors told his parents that he had a 5% chance of surviving, but he did. They said he would never walk, but he ran. They said he may not speak, but he is holding his own in interviews and pursuing a degree in sports broadcasting. The story of Matthew Tapia is not that he “survived,” it is that he is thriving.

Matt the Football Player

Heading into his senior year at Santa Monica High School, Matt approached the football coach and asked to play. This coach took a chance and gave Matt the opportunity to play, just like any other boy. He practiced everyday with the team. They accepted him and rallied around him, not out of pity, but because (according to senior Christian Winter), “he makes everything more fun.”

Though Matt did not become a starter in his year on the SMHS football team, he was able to play in two games on a team that made it to the second round of playoffs. He walked away from his season with a lot more than a few minutes on the football field. He walked away with a team of brothers, confidence, and another story of how he has overcome so much more than most could even imagine.


Lauren Lewis

Written on May 30, 2014 by:

Lauren Lewis began working at the Friendship Circle in May 2012 as the Communications and Event Coordinator. After participating in Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan and meeting some amazing kids with special needs, Lauren fell in love with the cause and never stopped advocating. When not at the Friendship Circle, she is wearing maize and blue and enjoying life in Detroit. You can connect with Lauren on LinkedIn.