An exceptional sports fan

Mar. 07, 2014 @ 05:08 AM

There are all kinds of sports fans in the world. There are the kind that go all out by painting their faces and screaming at the officials and the ones who are a little calmer but still enjoy the games. I have encountered them all playing sports and watching my brother’s games.

But I recently met a sports fan that inspires others every time he comes to games. He doesn’t get mad at officials, he doesn’t scream or yell at the players, he is just there to support them. That fan is Bradley Guffey.

Bradley is the number one Cavalier fan. He has been to several home football games and loves cheering East Rutherford High School on to victory. But where he shines as a fan is on the basketball court.

If you have been to a Cavalier home basketball game lately, then you have probably seen him in action. He’s the 16-year-old boy in a wheelchair that enthusiastically throws out the ball to the officials before the boy’s games. The cheerleaders have a special cheer just for Bradley and he always gets a standing ovation.

He is the best sports fan I’ve ever met.

Bradley, who has cerebral palsy, began coming to the basketball games after athletic trainer David Milam found out he loved sports. David works with Bradley every day and could see his Cavalier spirit, so he encouraged Bradley’s dad to start bringing him to the games.

When Bradley began attending, he immediately fell in love with the voice of Cavalier announcer Derrick Smith. One night, Bradley finally got to meet Derrick and they instantly became friends.

After that, David and Derrick devised a plan for Bradley to be a part of the game and he has been throwing out the ball ever since.

But Bradley isn’t just a star on the court, he’s also a star in school. His teachers say he is very social and loves being around people. He takes classes like chorus, Spanish, physical education and foods. He actually received the nickname “Soul Man” after taking a liking to that song during chorus class. Bradley “Soul Man” Guffey is the heart of the school.

Although he is legally blind, he recognizes people by the sound of their voice or their touch. It’s amazing. Robert Boykins, assistant men’s basketball coach, said he and Bradley have a routine. All Robert has to do is grab the back of Bradley’s wheelchair and Bradley instantly knows who it is.

If you ask Bradley about the Cavalier men’s basketball team, he can quickly respond with the numbers of all of the players. He has often arrived to the games early for their shoot-arounds and says he wants to be a point guard. Coach Brad LeVine and the players say that having Bradley at the games gives them inspiration and a sense of community.

While working on Bradley’s story, I have visited the school and spent time with him twice. And each time I visited him I couldn’t stop smiling. Bradley is truly, as David calls him, an exceptional kid. He has so much school spirit and always seems positive.

Through all of the interviews and taking pictures of him, I realized he was having an impact on me. Meeting and interacting with him was a great moment in my life. He has taught me what a great sports fan should be.

Bradley is the number one Cavalier fan because he is a supporter of the team. Bradley is there for his Cavaliers win or lose and he loves the players just the same no matter what. His teachers said that in PE class, he always cheers on the other students when they are doing an activity he can’t participate in. He’s an amazing supporter and I know if I was playing a sport, I would love to have Bradley cheering me on.

I plan on sharing Bradley’s story in an upcoming issue of The Daily Courier. I also plan to go out to some East Rutherford basketball games next season to see him in action. He told me he is already practicing so he will be ready when it’s time to throw out the ball.