Steve Serio Thanks His Family For Their Never Ending Support Throughout His Illustrious Wheelchair Basketball Career
by Steve Serio
Steve Serio poses at the Team USA Tokyo 2020 Olympic shoot on November 23, 2019 in West Hollywood, California.
To my family,
As my career comes to an end, I can’t help but think of where this journey began. Who would have ever thought that all of this would have started inside a rickety, old gym attached to a hospital in Long Island, New York?
Without knowing anything about adaptive sports, you pushed me into trying something that none of us were familiar with. Wheelchair basketball was like a forge in language. Do the players play on a 10-foot hoop? Can people dribble in a wheelchair? Are the rules the same? Basketball in a wheelchair?
But you raised me to never see my disability as something that could hold me back. To me, it was just basketball. And it was something that finally would allow me to be the best athlete I can be. Thank you for never seeing me as a kid with a disability but a real athlete.
But when I think about the early days, the things I can’t help but remember aren’t the countless number of shots, the warped floor or the wooden backboards, or the teammates of my first wheelchair basketball team, but it's the fact that I never missed a practice. Because of you, I never missed an opportunity to do what I loved and to do the thing that would ultimately shape me into the man I am today.
I can’t even begin to thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made in order for me to pursue my dreams. You’ve never told me once that I couldn’t go to practice because you had something else to do, or that we couldn’t go to some random tournament because we would miss another family gathering. That included all of the family vacations that were scheduled around my crazy travels because Team USA tournaments just had to be in the summer every year. When I told you I was moving to Europe to play professionally after college, the only rule was that I was home for Christmas every year.
You supported me 100 percent without question. You pushed me when things got easy. You picked me up and dusted me off when things got challenging. You taught me the value of teamwork and how to put the team's goals ahead of my own. Everything I am today, on and off the court, is because of the example and the support I received from each of you along the way.
I often think about each of you when I’m in another random hotel, in another random city at yet another competition. And I think to myself, “when is enough, enough?” How many more championships, or how many more medals do we need to win until I feel fulfilled as an athlete. And I drift off to sleep comforted knowing that through your eyes, I’ve been enough of an athlete since the first practice you took me to in that rickety, old gym. You’ve been my rock, my North Star, my lifeline through all of the ups and downs. From whatever country or whatever time zone, I always had you in my corner. Having you at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and knowing the family was watching and supporting from home made winning gold there much more meaningful than I can ever describe.
As an athlete, the last year has been one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever gone through. The delay of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 made me question if this life was something I still wanted. But your support never wavered. And while you will not be able to cheer us on in person, I know that you’ll be watching and shouting from home. You’ll probably be shouting at the TV loud enough for us to hear you in Tokyo.
And while I’ve said “I love you” thousands of times, I haven’t said “thank you” nearly enough. Thank you for always being there. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for sacrificing for me. Thank you for being the most incredible Team USA family there’s ever been.