Nebraska teen nails basketball trick shot in viral video and inspires Harlem Globetrotters

Nebraska teen nails basketball trick shot in viral video and inspires Harlem Globetrotters
James Meiergerd, left, celebrates with friend Manny Barragan after nailing a backward half-court shot during halftime of a game last week at West Point-Beemer High School in northeast Nebraska. (West Point News)

A Nebraska teen with Down syndrome nailed a trick shot during halftime of a high school basketball game and a video of the moment has gone viral.

The video of James Meiergerd’s backward half-court basket has also drawn attention from a team that appreciates a fun shot: the Harlem Globetrotters.

The Globetrotters have invited Meiergerd, 18, to be their guest when they play in Omaha in April.

His mom, Karen, said her son is thrilled about the invite and she’s tickled about his shot.

“It just gives you goose bumps,’’ she said.

Her son is a senior at West Point-Beemer High School in northeast Nebraska and suits up for the junior varsity basketball team. He goes to all the varsity games to root for his friends.

She said he started practicing the trick shot with a friend a couple weeks ago, and pulled it off spontaneously during halftime of the varsity team’s game Friday against rival Wisner-Pilger.

Meierger was sitting in the student section with buddy Manny Barragan, and there was a lull after the dance team performed.

Barragan said he knew Meiergerd was itching to try his shot.

So the two friends stepped onto the court and Meiergerd took his first shot. It didn’t land in the basket, but he kept trying, with the crowd cheering him on.

When he sunk the basket after about 10 tries, the crowed erupted. He hugged his friend, pumped his arm into the air and ran to the student section, where he was embraced by classmates.

Matt Hinkel, a teacher at the high school and assistant basketball coach, said Meiergerd is a wonderful young man.

“The kids love him, and it’s great to see how they respond to him,” he said. “He’s one of them.”

His mom said the students, school and community have always shown great support.

She said her son is an outgoing kid who makes friends easily. She said he also loves sports and participates in Special Olympics, whether it’s basketball, powerlifting, soccer or softball.

His mom shared the video with the Globetrotters. It has had more than 2,000 likes and other interactions on the team’s Facebook page and more than 55,000 views on the its Instagram account.

Dizzy English, who plays guard for the Globetrotters, said he’s seen the video of Meiergerd’s shot and is looking forward to meeting him when the team plays at Omaha’s CenturyLink Center on April 6.

English said the Globetrotters share something special with the teen: making people smile through basketball.

“The video,” he said, “was truly inspirational.”