The scoreboard read 103-19 during the final seconds of Thomson’s boys varsity game at Glenn Hills Tuesday.
Naturally, the action on the court had become disjointed, and most players and fans must have been hoping for the clock to tick to zero as fast as possible.
But despite the deficit his team faced, Demetreyon Ruffin hadn’t given up. And his hustle caught the attention of Thomson players Daquan Young and Jaden Moss, who decided to give Ruffin an assist so he could end the game on a positive note.
Instead of racing the ball up court for two more points for Thomson, Moss motioned to Ruffin to come try to take the ball from him as Moss dribbled near the Glenn Hills basket.
Ruffin snagged it from Moss and proved he knew exactly what to do with it by finishing the game with a bucket for Glenn Hills.
The Augusta Legends Facebook account captured the sequence, and the “act of kindness” has been viewed more than 24,000 times in the past three days.
Moss explained what inspired him to lend his opponent a hand before Thomson’s game at Laney Friday night.
“First of all, I respect him for getting out there and getting after it,” Moss said. “When I saw that, I just wanted to give him another opportunity.”
“A magical part of sports and basketball”
Ruffin goes by the nickname “Meat,” and his work ethic, his spirit and his talent have earned the adulation of his coach, his teammates and fans of Glenn Hills and Richmond County basketball. Head Coach William Cunningham was eager to describe Ruffin’s accomplishments now that Meat has caught the attention of people outside the Glenn Hills circle again.
“Because ‘Meat’ was born with a specific learning disability, his participation on our varsity team these past three years is all the more fascinating,” Cunningham shared in a release to the media in December. “He is a three-point marksman averaging 4.5 points per contest while shooting better than 50% from the three-point line. Last year Demtreyon was selected as the team’s ‘Most Inspirational Player.’”
Ruffin might have needed an assist Tuesday, but he usually does just fine on his own.
For example, Friday night Meat swished a sweet three pointer in a game against No. 1 ranked Westside. And he showed the ability to handle the ball and score in the paint during the 100 Black Men Thanksgiving Classic Tournament at Augusta University in November.
“He has played in every game,” Cunningham said in a text message Friday. “We like to use him to close out quarters. He has a beautiful shot.”
Cunningham graduated from Glenn Hills in 1992 and played for John Cheney on Temple’s Elite Eight NCAA Tournament team before a professional career that included an NBA run with the Vancouver Grizzlies.
The fourth year head coach has a masters degree in special education, and he is a special education teacher. His experience in the classroom and in the gym makes him uniquely qualified to describe the benefits for Demetreyon when the scholastic sports system is working at its best.
“Demetreyon is in the MOID class, which is for students with moderate intellectual disabilities,” Cunningham explained. “One thing that is found in this population is a want to be included and treated equally. No child left behind is about inclusion and equality and giving students the best education possible, no matter their gifts or limitations.”
Cunningham said Ruffin works endlessly on his shooting skills, and that has helped him become a marksman. Because people like Cunningham, Daquan Young and Jaden Moss take notice of Ruffin’s unique gifts. He is able to thrive and experience moments that he’ll cherish forever.
“To be able to use basketball as a means of communication for a nonverbal student is just another magical part of sports and basketball,” Cunningham texted before continuing to shower praise on Ruffin. “He’s never late, never unprepared, never disrespectful, never untidy. He’s well dressed, well groomed, passionate and energetic. A school leader. A lover of the ladies.He’s funny, silly, and endearing.”
A Spotlight on Jaden Moss
Learning more about Ruffin brought the opportunity to become more familiar with Jaden Moss, whose act of kindness has captured so much attention. Before this week, Moss was seen by the tens of thousands (at least) of Georgia high school football fans who tuned in to Thomson’s state championship victory over Fitzgerald thirty days ago. Moss’s 22-yard reception on third-and-eight from quarterback Jah’Kiaus Jones, also a teammate on Thomson’s basketball team, kept alive Thomson’s opening drive, which eventually ended with a touchdown.
But even while Moss pursues the second state championship of his senior year for the No. 4 ranked basketball Bulldogs, he’s most proud of his lifelong success in the classroom.
“I’m an A/B honor roll student. I’ve been an A/B honor roll student all my life,” Moss said. “Without grades, it doesn’t matter how much (athletic) talent you have.”
Moss said he’s hoping a college with a football team will give him a chance to extend his playing days after he graduates this Spring. I hope so too.
Follow Chad Cook’s coverage of local sports on Facebook, and Instagram at @AugustaPressSports, and on Twitter at @AugPressSports
AWESOME story and pray this story will go WORLD WIDE! There are so many positive standouts in this story…Moss and his heartwarming in-site into the talent and determination of this young player “Meat”; the teacher/coach who sees the determination and ability of his student – regardless of his limitations – and gives “Meat” the opportunity to play “first-string” and not a “bench warmer” with the team. Many thanks to Mr. Moss and Mr. Cunningham.