Harden Spears: Star of the 5th Quarter
Autistic hoopster drains buckets, warms hearts
WM School District Harden Spears made sure his last game of the season counted.
An eighth-grader at West Junior High, Spears lit up the East Junior High eighth-graders for a gamehigh 24 points at the Imp Dome and video highlights of his effort went viral on Facebook.
“It felt great!” Spears said after the game. “The threepointers are my favorite shots.”
Spears is without question his teammates’ favorite player. In fact, no one got more enjoyment out of it than the rest of the Blue Imp players.
Spears’ marksmanship on the court stems from his relentless practice in his driveway, where his father, Bud, says he spends “two or three hours a day just shooting.”
Harden regularly beats his own Dad and older brother Hayden in H-O-R-S-E in the driveway.
“Yeah, we’re both terrible,” Bud said with a laugh, referring to Hayden and himself. “Harden will practice for hours even going across the street to shoot on the neighbors’ goal.”
Harden is the biggest West Memphis sports fan in town. His guy is none other than Blue Devil sophomore basketball star Chris Moore, who he recently predicted would “dunk five times” on Wynne.
He doesn’t stop with just basketball, though. He loves the football Devils, the baseball Devils and the volleyball and soccer teams.
“I like to play baseball a lot, but I got tired of playing the outfield,” he said amid laughter. “No more outfield for me.”
Harden’s accomplishments on the court were recently noticed by Memphis TV station WATN (Channel 24). Reporter Rudy Williams and his camera crew came by West Junior High for a visit with Harden and his parents Bud and Amber along with principal and assistant principal Charlie Tyler and Chad Martin respectively.
Williams asked Harden about his basketball accomplishments and even videoed him playing against the rest of his teammates on the Imp Dome floor.
“Every parent wants to see their kid successful, so watching Harden do so well the other night and seeing that the whole gym was excited… it was just great,” said Bud.
“Just seeing the excitement in his eyes and doing what he loves to do…we couldn’t be more proud of him,” said Amber. “I videoed a lot of the game and it just went viral. Apparently someone at Channel 24 saw it and they messaged me on Facebook. Rudy called me and they moved fast.”
Harden’s own season may be over, but he said he plans to be at every Blue
Devil basketball game through the end of the regular season as well as the state tournament, which will be in West Memphis Feb. 28-March 3.
[ Editor’s Note: A link to the video can be found on
the West Junior High Facebook page or by following the link: http:// www. localmemphis. com/ video/ auti stic- basketballplayer_
By Billy Woods