Celtics, Arbella Team Up to Help Groton Teen
GROTON -- The Plotkin family got the good news shortly after Father’s Day.
A few weeks earlier, Erik Plotkin had submitted an essay to the Boston Celtics and Arbella Insurance, telling the story of his son, Tyler, who was born with Hemimegalencephaly, a rare neurological condition in which one-half of the brain, or one side of the brain, is abnormally larger than the other. He was diagnosed with epilepsy at three weeks old and it caused Tyler to have over 20 seizures a day. On Oct. 19, 2005, Tyler had the right half of his brain surgically removed at just 15 months old to stop the recurring seizures.
Erik’s essay was supposed to be 500 words. It was 499. That was powerful enough to convince the Celtics and Arbella to contact Erik for further information. Then came a video chat with Lucky, the Celtics’ mascot, and Mary Anne Hailer from Arbella. After about 20 minutes of talking, Erik was notified that his family was one of three families chosen for the Home Court Makeover program.
On Thursday afternoon, a new basketball court was unveiled in the backyard of the Plotkin’s Groton home. Celtics guard Terry Rozier joined Celtics legend and radio voice Cedric Maxwell, and Hailer at the house. The group showed-off the new outdoor renovation which included a Celtics-themed court, a basketball hoop, two rebounding devices and surrounding fencing.
“It was fantastic and sort of a whirlwind,” said Erik.
Erik entered his submission in hopes of providing Tyler with a fun, safe platform to continue his development. He also knew the court would be a tremendous source for family togetherness.
Tyler, who is 14, was there enjoying every second of it in his wheelchair, giving out high-fives. Erik and his wife, Heather, had beaming smiles throughout the festivities, as did daughter Alisa, 11, and son Gavin, 5. Friends and other family members were also on hand, each donned in green Celtics’ T-shirts and holding Celtics basketballs, which would later be signed by Rozier and Maxwell.
“It’s special any time I can connect with kids,” said Rozier. “To reach out to people and deliver that message, and show them that basketball isn’t the only thing that I do and live for. I remember being young and never getting a chance to talk to a guy who is in my position. One little message can change somebody’s life.”
The weather didn’t exactly cooperate at first. The Plotkin family, Rozier and Maxwell participated in ceremonial “first shots” on the new court, and right after that thunder rumbled and rain poured down.
But there was no amount of rain that was going to ruin this party. Everyone moved inside to the Plotkin’s living room and Rozier and Maxwell fielded a Q&A session. Rozier was praised for his outstanding play during last season’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals, and Maxwell was asked what it was like to be part of the famed 1980s rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I still hate Magic Johnson,” joked the always-personable Maxwell.
The Celtics also presented the Plotkins with a Celtics NBA replica jersey with their last name on it, and a Rozier playoff banner, similar to the ones that hang on street posts outside TD Garden during the playoffs. Both of those items were autographed by Rozier.
By the time all of that was done, the rain had stopped and everyone went back out to the basketball court. The kids in attendance went through some brief dribbling and shooting exercises with Rozier participating right there with them.
“Tyler’s sister (Alisa) and brother (Gavin) just absolutely love the court and use it daily since it was put in,” said Heather. “Gavin never played basketball or had any interest, and now he plays constantly. My daughter, being a Celtics fan, was absolutely in awe of having a legend and player in her house and here on the court playing basketball with her. It’s been amazing.”
The Callahan family of Andover and the Cuozzo family of Kingston also celebrated home court unveilings earlier this week.
Follow Matt Langone on Twitter @MattLangone