The way Houston Texans’ (American football) player DeAndre Hopkins celebrates his touchdowns has become known as one of the most unique and moving rituals in sports.
This edition of Mediamax Sport’s In One Shot column tells the story of that celebration.
DeAndre Hopkins’ mother Sabrina Greenlee takes the same seat at every home game, close to the field, so that she can hear the ball hitting the turf. Her two daughters sit beside her.
Sabrina Greenlee lost her sight after suffering an acid attack 17 years ago. She has never seen her son walk out of the tunnel and play. DeAndre Hopkins was 10 years old when the tragic incident took place.
Greenlee raised her three children on her own. She underwent multiple skin transplantations and 20 surgeries, and although her vision was partially restored for some time, a few years ago she became completely blind.
At that time DeAndre was becoming an NBA star. To express his gratitude and respect to his mother, the player once ran up to her and put the ball into her outstretched hands. He repeated the ritual in November 2019 and on other occasions since then.
“I can’t see but I visualize everything that he does,” said Greenlee. “The dreads, the body movement.”
Her daughter Shanterria provides commentary for the game, describing how DeAdre catches the ball, what he fails to do, what he does right…
A tense moment in the game makes Sabrina get up, and the stands do the same when DeAndre is close to earning points for his team. They know what follows. The ritual is very important for the mother and son.
“My mother can’t see me, but whenever I score a touchdown or do something, I try to make sure she gets the ball so she can feel me,” explained DeAndre.
“That ball symbolizes so much more than people ever could understand,” added Sabrina.