By Joey Yashinksy
There was a slight break in Horizon League tournament action on Saturday, but that didn’t mean the day’s entertainment took any breather at all.
Before an enthusiastic crowd at Joe Louis Arena, The Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan Foundation put on their 15th annual Celebrity Wheelchair Basketball game. It brought together the Detroit Diehards - RIM’s award-winning wheelchair basketball team - with a group of local celebrities, including former Michigan football star and two-time Super Bowl champion Lamarr Woodley, former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, and gold medal-winning swimmer Peter VanderKaay.
The coaches leading the two sides were Earl Cureton and John Long, both former Detroit Mercy Titan greats that also went on to play for the Detroit Pistons. Cureton was good-natured about the spirit of the charity game, though he couldn’t completely shake his competitive streak. “I really enjoyed being out here,” he said. “A bunch of great guys. But my team just couldn’t make shots. And then the other team has this football player banking in 3-pointers!”
That player was Lamarr Woodley, the MVP of the game. He’s made his living as an NFL linebacker, but on this day, he looked fairly comfortable with a basketball in his hands.
“This was such a great experience,” Woodley said. “To have the opportunity to participate was wonderful. Anything for a good cause, I am down for it.”
Despite his MVP status, the difficulty of the sport was not lost on Woodley. “It is a lot harder than it looks,” he said. “I have major respect for the Detroit Diehards, because this is very tough.”