So, my wife and I are watching our Orlando Magic play (and eventually go on to win!) game 3 of the NBA finals last night when I saw my mechanic, Izzy, sitting in the stands with his son.
I grabbed the DVR control, rewound it a few seconds, and shouted, “There’s Izzy!”
When we lived in Orlando, we took our car to Izzy’s auto repair shop. He’s an amazing person. During that time in our lives we had very unreliable cars so we ended up seeing Izzy about once a month. He always treated us really well and often gave me the “Pastor’s discount.” Over the years we go to be very close with Izzy. He even came to the hospital for the birth of my second son.
During halftime they ran a powerful story on Izzy and his son.
Here’s an excerpt from the story they showed on ABC last night:
All it took was a little Magic for a 4-year-old boy to find his voice.
While most Orlando Magic fans come to the games to see the action, all Izzy Rodriguez wants to do is listen to his son speak. It’s a sound he thought he might never hear.
Diagnosed with an anxiety disorder called selective mutism, Ryan Rodriguez had never spoken more than a word or two while his preschool classmates chatted up a storm. But that changed one night when Ryan caught a Magic game on television and started pointing.
“He sat there and kept going, ‘Me, me, play, play,” Rodriguez told “Good Morning America. “So I turn around and I do crazy things.”
Crazy things, he said, like paying $641 for two tickets to a Magic game.
“It was very, very heavy. It was either pay the mortgage or take him to a game,” Rodriguez said. “So I figure I only live once and they usually give you 30 days before they yell at you.”
It was a worthwhile sacrifice for Rodriguez and his wife, Karen Rodriguez. For years, they’ve watched other children play and make noises.
“He wouldn’t do that,” Rodriguez said of his son. “He would sit there and just stare.”
Ryan, his parents said, wouldn’t talk to anyone — not them, not to his preschool teachers.
“It just, it broke my heart because, you know, I’d see the other kids just interacting and he just wouldn’t,” Karen Rodriguez said.
After Ryan was diagnosed, the Rodriguezes began to spend thousands of dollars from Izzy Rodriguez’s auto mechanic’s salary on speech therapy. But nothing worked until Ryan saw the Magic game on TV at the end of April.
Despite the financial burden, Rodriguez said he was desperate to find something that his son could connect with.
“When he’s yours,” he said, “you do whatever it takes.”
So off the father and son went to the April 28 game. Rodriguez’s plan seemed to work right away.
“When we get there, he says, ‘Me, play basketball, here?'” Rodriguez said. “So I look down and dropped to my knees and said ‘What did you say?’ He said, ‘Me play basketball here?’ I said, Yeah.”
Ryan, his father said, kept talking through the entire game. Click for the rest of the story
Izzy is a good and faithful man. I’m so happy for him and for Ryan.
I love the Orlando Magic and I hope they beat the Lakers, but–in light of what’s really important and what their organization has done for Izzy and his family–they’ve already proven to me that they are true champions.