BOSTON — All Louis Corbett wanted to do was see a Boston Celtics game. He probably ended up leaving more than he took away.
Louis, a 12-year-old boy from New Zealand, had a wish granted Wednesday when he received the VIP treatment at TD Garden during the Celtics’ game against the Golden State Warriors. Louis has a degenerative eye condition that ultimately could leave him blind, and a live Celtics game was on his list of things to see before his sight possibly goes.
Corrine Grousbeck, wife of Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, learned of Louis on social media and the team helped make his dream come true. Louis got to tour the Celtics’ locker room, received a pair of autographed sneakers from Jeff Green and even met Rajon Rondo, his favorite player.
“It was very exciting to meet him,” Rondo said. “He came into the locker room before the game and he met me. I didn’t know I was his favorite player. We had some words. Very happy kid, to go through what he’s going through and still have a smile on his face is very humbling, because we all get to do what we love to do for a living and you never know. At any moment, it can all be taken from you, so you try not to take anything for granted.”
Green is one of the few members of the Celtics who also had to face a life-changing medical situation. A heart-surgery survivor, Green has made a habit of visiting children with heart ailments, and Louis’ story and attitude touched him deeply.
“It is tough to meet a kid going through what he is going through,” Green said. “His overall spirit, really, in spite of the game, put a smile on my face because he is going through something that is going to be with him for life. We can get down over little things and then you have a kid who is about to have a surgery in a couple of weeks (or) who is going to be blind, and right now he is enjoying life a day at a time.”
“I look up to kids like that,” Green added. “Even though he is younger than me, he inspires me to get better each day. I just wish the best for him and pray for him every day.”
As Green mentioned, the game itself was far less fulfilling. The Celtics were beaten badly, 108-88, and failed to live up to Louis’ enthusiasm or to an emotional rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” sung by the chorus from the Perkins School for the Blind.
“I’m really disappointed in how we played, for a number of reasons, but certainly I would’ve liked to play better for him and his family,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “I had a chance to spend time with him in my office before the game and I thought the national anthem by the Perkins School for the Blind was outstanding.
“I just think it’s the way we should be. It’s the way an organization should be. You should give back to community. I don’t know that you should necessarily be applauded for it. I think you should just do it. Stories like that are uplifting to all of us, and I hope that he had a great night even though we didn’t play well.”