Every Eastvale Roosevelt basketball player had been introduced after winning the Southern California Division I regional title except for Brennon Wade, a starting junior guard who sat back in his chair nervously touching his hair and smiling as people tried to alert the public address announcer that he had forgotten No. 33.
Soon Wade was entering the interview room and smiling again after seeing his first name misspelled.
Nothing fazes him. Nothing deters him. Nothing prevents him from competing against the best even though he was born without a fully developed right hand.
"I've learned to adapt and overcome it," he said.
To understand the inspiration of high school sports, you needed to be at the Pyramid on Saturday to watch, listen and feel the power of determination.
From 35-point performances delivered by Matt Mitchell of Roosevelt and Charisma Osborne of Windward, to Torrance Bishop Montgomery defeating Santa Ana Mater Dei, 60-53, in the Open Division championship game as hundreds of its fans dressed in white cheered on, it was a day and night to remember.
But most memorable for me was getting the chance to speak with Wade, a 6-foot-3 straight-A student who continues to prove himself every time he meets a stranger who wonders if his right hand might prevent him from being successful in sports.
"I like to prove my point that I'm a player like anyone else," Wade said. "I can go out there and handle business. I thrive on the defensive end, and there's nothing you can do to take away from my hand. I'm going to get after it and earn your respect, and on the offensive floor, I'm going to make moves and do things to help my team win."
He started playing multiple sports from an early age and simply adjusts as the competition gets tougher.
"The honest truth is I've never asked Brennon about his hand — ever," Coach Stephen Singleton said. "I know it's there, but Brennon really doesn't do anything to show, 'I can't do this.' He feels and believes he can do everything anybody else can do and makes everybody believe the same."
Before he reached high school, he used to blow by opponents by dribbling with his left hand, then he had to train harder and improve because the competition got tougher.
"The biggest problem I'd say with my hand is finishing around the basket," he said. "I have to be more crafty than other players when I get to the rim. I have to make a quick decision or have to do a reverse because not only are they going to take away my right hand but they're also jumping to my left, so I have to be able to finish that way."
There will always be skeptics, but there are also those who recognize what Wade is accomplishing.
"One of my proudest points is I can inspire people, and I can show them what I can do," he said. "Even though they might have the same problem or not, anyone can overcome any obstacle."
On Friday, Wade will be starting for Roosevelt when it plays Union City James Logan for the Division I state championship at Golden 1 Center, home of the Sacramento Kings.
"I've never been in an atmosphere like this in my entire life," he said. "I'm trying to absorb it in and enjoy every moment."
Wade exudes confidence and demonstrates great perseverance.
Asked if anything can stop him, he said, "Not so far. I'm still going."