Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


February 13, 2014

Michael Briggs, 16-year-old with Down's syndrome, inspires while playing the sports he loves for Andover High

Briggs inspires on, off court as member of JV hoops team


A Warrior’s beginning

Early in Michael’s childhood, his parents placed a strong importance on integrating their middle son into the Andover community, where the family has lived since 1986.

They found a perfect match for Michael in Andover’s Hooptown basketball camp, run by Golden Warriors varsity coach David Fazio.

“We have always pushed for Michael to be in the mainstream because that is the world he will have to live in when he gets older,” said Kim Briggs, a speech language pathologist at The Professional Center for Child Development in Andover. “We felt like Hooptown would be a perfect testing ground. Michael loved basketball, why not start with Hooptown?”

Any early concerns David and Kim Briggs had about how their son would be welcomed into the Andover basketball community were allayed when Michael arrived at the basketball school.

“The kids were just unbelievable to Michael,” his father said. “You never know how anyone is going to act. You never know how the kids or the program are going to react. But they accepted Michael as a member of the family.

“Our only regret is that we didn’t take him to Hooptown earlier. But we are glad we did because of all the joy that it has brought to not just our family, but the entire basketball community.”

Becoming a Golden Warrior

Now a fixture at Hooptown — first alongside older brother Christopher, now 19, and eventually with younger brother Jonathan, 10 — Michael had a new dream when he arrived at Andover High as a freshman last year.

He wanted to play basketball for the Golden Warriors.

After some initial questions about whether there would be a spot for Michael, his father decided to be proactive. They went directly to Fazio, who had no reservations about making him part of the program.

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