‘‘He was furious,’’ Pam said, ‘‘and he was banging on the back of my husband’s seat, yelling, ‘Faster, Papa, faster.’ You have to win, Papa. You have to win.'’’
Sweeney, an avid fan of the Celtics and Kevin Garnett, is at his happiest when he’s playing basketball.
‘‘It makes me feel like I'm dating Beyoncé,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s the most beautiful feeling in the world. It’s my passion.’’
Sweeney taught himself to shoot while practicing at home.
‘‘He’s got the mechanics mastered,’’ Gillis said.
Sweeney said when opponents first see him, they appear curious, but not rude.
‘‘Once they see me shoot,’’ he said, ‘‘they’re kind of baffled. They’re like, ‘Oh, you can shoot with one arm. I can barely shoot with two.’ ‘‘
‘‘Whenever he’s on the court, he tries his hardest,’’ Brown said. ‘‘He never gives up on a play. He makes me want to work harder, too.’’
Many people have told Sweeney that he’s inspired them.
‘‘I don’t play just to inspire people,’’ Sweeney said. ‘‘I play because I love it, but obviously when I'm out there, I hope I'm an inspiration to some people. If they believe they’re not good enough, they can just look at me and say, ‘Well, his circumstances aren’t that good, but he still plays with his heart. I can contribute as well.'’’
Gillis rates Sweeney among NCC’s most tenacious defenders.
‘‘There’s kind of a quickness about him,’’ Gillis said. ‘‘We play a lot of zone and he’s able to cover his area. He’s a basketball player when he’s out there.’’
‘‘I keep my eye on the ball,’’ Sweeney said, ‘‘and I watch a lot of NBA players defend and I try to learn from them.’’
Sweeney plans to study sports management at Fitchburg State University or American International College in Springfield. His dream job would be to manage the Red Sox, but he might try sportscasting for a while.
Sweeney refuses to allow his limitations to get him down.
‘‘I like the metaphor that if life gives you lemons, make lemonade,’’ he said. ‘‘Life gave me no legs so I have fake legs. I just try to be positive. If people notice that I'm positive and they’re depressed, they'll look at me and think, ‘Maybe my life isn’t so bad, it could be worse, like him, but he’s turned it around to make it something great out of what he had.’ ‘‘
That outlook is far more meaningful than sinking a 3-pointer. It’s a slam dunk.