As pointed out by the Gloucester County Times, in the annals of forgivable basketball violations, few may be more understandable than the traveling violation committed by Kingsway (N.J.) High senior Anthony Laube on his team's senior night earlier this year.
That's because Laube had little choice but to travel, as he happens to move in a motorized wheelchair. After years serving as the Kingsway student manager, Laube got a chance to start a game on the court in his team's 68-38 rout of Clayton (N.J.) High.
"It was about all the seniors tonight and that's the way Anthony wanted it too," Kingsway head coach George Passante told the County Times. "He just wants to be one of the guys and it's obvious he is. But he lifts us up more than we can ever imagine lifting him up."
The most heralded Kingsway senior -- who also happened to finish with the fewest minutes on the court among his graduating class -- has always received plenty of attention for refusing to compromise his lifestyle, despite the cerebral palsy that forces him to travel in a motorized wheelchair. As of Saturday, Laube had no fewer than 1,100 Facebook friends, a count which many claimed was completely realistic given his popularity at the school.
"He gets off the bus in the morning with a smile and leaves the same way," Owen McBride, on of Laube's one-on-one aides, told the County Times. "He's the mayor of the hallways. It's like he has paparazzi following him. I walk behind him to give him space because he doesn't need a shadow and every single person says hello or shakes his hand. No one is doing him a favor. He's a sweet kid and people want to talk to him."
For one game, people wanted to play with him, too. Laube was on the court for the opening tip off and received a pass from fellow senior Jaysen Conway. He rolled forward with the ball, earning a traveling call, then left the court to a raucous ovation.
"We were ecstatic when we heard (that he was going to play)," Anthony Laube's father, Roger Laube, told the County Times. "Coach had told me since his sophomore year that he wanted to get him in a game. He didn't want to go to sleep last night. He wanted this to last forever.
"I think it was a good learning experience for the team and it has been great for Anthony. It's something that will impact them all for the rest of their lives. The whole student body, coaches and faculty have been great to him."
Kingsway's coach made it clear that the experience was good for his team, too.
"Emotionally he has taught us a lot," Passante said. "You come to a realization that this is just basketball. We had a bad first half (tonight), but you turn around and see Anthony in the locker room with us and remember it's just basketball. This game is not as hard as what he has to do every day of his life. We take things for granted. When the guys are tired or not feeling good and they look over at Anthony, it's inspiration."