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An inspirational story

There are a lot of words and phrases that could be used to describe the explosion of emotion in the Briarwood gym last week.

Spine-tingling. Tear-jerking. Cathartic.

After all, it was Senior Night -- the culmination of four years of hard work by several Buccaneers.

But it was more than that.

It was about overcoming. Coming back. Making a stand.

You see, the standing cheer on both sides of the gym came just after the final basket of the game against Thomas Jefferson had fallen. The shooter: Senior Brandon Norman, for his only two points of the season.

Brandon's story starts last year, when as a junior he excelled on the gridiron, hardwood and diamond. He was destined for a terrific senior year as a starter in football, basketball and baseball.

Then fate stepped in. Cancer had invaded the teen's brain. Surgery was set. Senior athletic dreams were shelved. But not abandoned.

Brandon spent most of the football season in full pads, stalking the sideline, reading defensive and offensive sets and giving advice to other players.

He also excelled in the classroom, being named to the school's Merit List for the first nine weeks.

When basketball season got cranked up, he took a spot on the bench next to the coach -- just weeks after a second surgery in December.

Then, last week, as the regular season wound down, Brandon got his chance to play -- coming into the game for the last few minutes in an effort just to get a basket or two. He had several chances, each bouncing out, even though he'd been near perfect in his pre-game warm-ups.

The crowd rose and fell with each attempt and as the last shot left his fingers, the gym was nearly silent. Then, Brandon's basket fell. And months of pent-up emotion came pouring out of the stands.

Brandon has spent the last nine months as a shining example of bravery -- from dealing with the tragic death of his best friend over the summer to coming to grips with a disease that should never be faced by anyone.

Whether he's on the field, walking the halls or sitting in the classroom, Brandon Norman has found a position he can certainly excel in: An inspiration to us all.

Web posted on Thursday, February 12, 2004

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