Videos by OutKick
Tuesday night at a middle school gym in Dexter, Missouri, Ryan “Slick” Eaton took a pass off the right elbow, dribbled into the lane, made a defender miss, showed off the handles by going behind the back, and then put one off the bank and into the basket for two. The crowd roared, but Slick knew he had to get back to play defense against his opponents from Sikeston.
Slick’s principal, Scott Kruse, told OutKick via email that it was one of those scenes that “brings a tear to everyone’s eye.” He explained that Slick has Down syndrome, but it hasn’t stopped him from being a member of the Dexter Middle School basketball team and attending practice each day where he also maintains a dual role as team manager.
That behind the back in the lane isn’t just something Slick, the son of Toby and Laci Eaton, thought up on the fly. Kruse says his buddy has an incredible ability to watch YouTube videos and then mimick the movements.
“This summer, he showed me how he is working on keeping his elbow under the ball when he shoots,” Kruse added, while noting that No. 1 has also been practicing checking in at the scorer’s table.
All of the offseason work turned into production Tuesday as coaches Lloyd Hyten and Shawn Ghethle called on Slick to show the community all the practice he’d been putting in. After all was said and done, Slick ended the game with four points and roars that will be remembered around Dexter (pop. 7,900) for years to come.
“As his principal and buddy, seeing him get in a game and score four points made me remember why people teach, why they coach, and how we all value joyful moments. It also reminded everyone there that being kind always wins,” Kruse wrote.
“Slick and his Dexter Bearcat teammates, as well as the Sikeston Bulldogs, gave us a moment last night we will remember forever.”
“Everyone needs a Ryan.”