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NWBA Athlete of the Week - Matt Scott

12/23/2015, 9:30am CST

Weekly Installment featuring men's and women's Team USA players

Paralympic bronze medalist, Matt Scott, has been a member of the U.S. men’s wheelchair basketball team for over 10 years and is a three-time U.S. Paralympian from Athens, Beijing and London.  He has been a critical component of the success of Team USA for the past several years and continues to play a dominant role as well as mentor the newer team members.

He took part in a “Polo Ralph Lauren” campaign during the 2012 Paralympics, he was nominated in 2008 for an Espy for “Best Male Athlete with a Disability” and was featured in a Nike “No Excuses” commercial in 2007. 

Name:         Matt Scott    
Classification:     3.5
Height:         5’ 8”
Date of Birth:     March 27, 1985
Place of Birth:     Detroit, Mich.
Hometown:         Detroit, Mich.
Residence:         Porto Torres, Italy
High School:          Southfield-Lathrup High School, Southfield, Mich.
College:               University of Wisconsin, Whitewater 
Major:         Sociology

Career Highlights:     
2015 Parapan American games, gold medal; 2013-14 European champions cup; 2012 Paralympic Games-bronze medal; 2012 Kitakyushu Cup; 2012-13 European champions cup; 2011 Parapan American games, gold medal; 2011 Kitakyushu Cup; 2011-12 European champions cup; 2010 IWBF World Championship, bronze medal; 2010- Named to All-World team (top 5 players at World Championships 2010 in Birmingham, England; 2009 Kitakyushu Cup; 2008 Paralympic Games-fourth place; 2008 Kitakyushu Cup; 2008-09 European champions cup; 2007 Parapan American games, gold medal; 2006 IWBF World Championships, silver medal; 2004 Paralympic Games team member

Competition Wheelchair:  Per4Max (All day, every day. That’s me. They look great, perform well)

Personal Background: His mother is Audrey Scott. He has a sister, Sherita and a brother, Alex.  He also has many other very supportive family members and friends he considers family.

Hobbies: Spending quality time with family and friends, going to sports games, concerts, visiting art galleries, moves, out to eat, travelling, etc.


Q&A with Matt:

NWBA:  Who is your hero?
Matt:   My mother.  She truly supports me through thick and thin.  Whether I am winning a medal or losing my biggest game, she is right there with me.  

NWBA:  When did you start playing wheelchair basketball? 
Matt:  This reminds me of when they asked Kobe Bryant and he said he would shoot rolled up socks in the hamper.  I used to do the same thing.  I had a hoop on the wall.  In 1998, I was 14 years old when I first started playing.  I went to my first ever practice and Mikey Paye was there.  He set the bar pretty high.  At first I thought, “you should play basketball with able-bodied friends.” I associated the negative connotation of being in a wheelchair with wheelchair basketball.  To get the beauty of the sport you need to see it and you’ll see what a beautiful game it is.  I haven’t left the sport since.  I am a student of the game.  I am getting better all the time.  It’s been ten plus years of being part of Team USA and I feel professionally the best is yet to come.

NWBA: Do you play any other sports? Did you receive any awards from other sports?
Matt: In bowling, I score double-digit gutter balls.  I’ve tried football and softball. I once played in a tennis tournament and got slaughtered.  Wheelchair basketball is my sport. I am in love with it. When I wake up I want to play wheelchair basketball, when I go to sleep I think about what I did that day to accomplish my goals.

NWBA: Do you play on an overseas wheelchair basketball team?
Matt:  Currently I play with GSD Porto Torres in Italy.  Moving abroad is a great life experience on and off the court.  I have learned a lot about the game, myself and the world.

NWBA: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
Matt:  I turn my left shoe backwards.  Many years ago in Juniors, (both my feet are amputated), I was pretty active on the court and had a big spill after chasing a ball.  After my contact on the floor, my shoe turned around and I didn’t know it was backwards. It was one of my best games.  I was shooting many three pointers in a row.  I was on fire that game. A teammate pointed out that it was backwards and asked if I wanted to fix it and I thought about it and said “No, I don’t want to fix it.”  I have been playing like that ever since plus the added bonus is that it freaks people out.

NWBA: Why do you play wheelchair basketball?
Matt:  It is my identity, the reason I have travelled the world. I have met so many great people.  I have been able to inspire and affect peoples’ lives.  I have had really incredible experiences through this sport. That is why I play.  Sometimes Facebook reminds you- On this day you did this...  I have been to all these cities.  I have met people who I wouldn’t have otherwise if it wasn’t for basketball.  

NWBA: The focus of these pieces has been about ability not disability but you have mentioned your physical disability.
Matt: I have never had to overcome anything. I have grown with it.  I had to adapt to it.  I never focused on what I couldn’t do.  I can do it and I just need to do it this way.  Wheelchair basketball gives me the opportunity to reach people and give them a different perception, show the true ability in a Paralympic athlete.  The skill level, the desire, the determination.  I am fortunate to have a voice.  I want to influence in a constructive way as many people and make wheelchair basketball accessible to more people. I want people to think:  “this is awesome!”  I want to give them the “Mr. Ed effect”: “This horse can talk!”… “This guy can ball!”  I want to have that kind of effect and continue to do that.

NWBA: What is your favorite basketball moment?
Matt: When I made my 1st national team. I was 18 in Athens.  I sat next to Mikey Paye.  I was more nervous than I have ever been!  I played my heart out for a chance to represent my country at something I love.  Mike is my brother. He is one of the people that I look up to and respect a lot.  The tryout was huge.  I leaned up against him waiting to see if I made the team and now we sit right next to each other at every try out when the team is being named.  It’s tradition.

NWBA: Do you follow NBA or College Basketball, or any other teams?  If so which are your favorite teams?
Matt: Being abroad it’s hard.  I like the Michigan and Michigan State teams.  I have favorite players.  LeBron.  I hate to see Kobe go. I’m wearing his jersey right now.  Steph Curry.

NWBA: Do you make any new year’s resolutions, if so, what are they?
Matt: I don’t make any resolutions. I am a so “in the moment” kind of guy.  I like to try and have a peaceful mindset. At the moment I am all about pursuing what makes me happy like making the national team, earning a place on that roster and being on the road to Rio.

NWBA: What is a short term goal?  
Matt: To be on the national team.  I think “Get up, you have a team to make, someone  is working harder than you.”  We are neck and neck with the rest of the world.  What separates the teams is the hunger and the drive, the desire to be with teammates and play at that level.  My goal is to be on the next team to Rio. 

NWBA:  What are your long term goals?
Matt: I want a gold medal at the Paralympics.  It would be a dream come true.  My life is basketball.  

Cover Photo credit: Kim MacMillan/MacMillan Photography

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