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Emmy Sheldon, sister of Jacy Sheldon, is Ohio State women's basketball's 'biggest why'

In her first and only season at Ohio State, transfer Celeste Taylor has had a couple of special experiences, but none can put a smile on her face quite like playing for a team that has Emmy Sheldon's support.

Emmy, a 16-year-old with Down syndrome and the younger sister of Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon, has become the program's most recognizable supporter. Whether she is on the sideline during pregame shooting drills, handing out high-fives to her sister and all her teammates, or she's on the jumbotron at Value City Arena, dancing during a timeout, everyone loves to see Emmy.

"Emmy's just a light for everyone," said Ohio State's Cotie McMahon. "Whether you know her or you don't know, you're going to love her, any interaction you have with her."

Related Sheldon article: Ohio State Buckeyes women's basketball: Jacy Sheldon, Cotie McMahon have lasting bond

Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon hugs her sister Emmy following a win over Iowa on Jan. 21.
Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon hugs her sister Emmy following a win over Iowa on Jan. 21.

Emmy Sheldon has built relationships

Across Jacy's time with the Buckeyes, the importance of her relationship with Emmy has been on display, and she's always letting everyone know how much she loves her sister.

Emmy has built relationships with her sister's teammates through always being around with the biggest smile on her face, cracking jokes and offering hugs to any one of them who needs it.

"I gave her a hug and she was like, 'Oh hi my favorite player.' It's just the small things," Taylor said. "It puts so much into perspective. Like yeah, we lost a game and it hurts, but when you see someone like Emmy smiling ... not only does it keep us locked in, but it puts a smile on a lot of faces."

Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon, right, celebrates with her sister Emmy after winning a game against Tennessee on Nov. 8. 2022.
Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon, right, celebrates with her sister Emmy after winning a game against Tennessee on Nov. 8. 2022.

Although Taylor has had less than a year to get to know Emmy, she's seen the impact that the teenager has on the Ohio State program. There are players such as Rikki Harris and Rebeka Mikulasikova who have known the Sheldon sisters for nearly five years and consider Emmy a best friend.

With Emmy around, her impact goes beyond the relationships she has built with Jacy's teammates.

Emmy has been able to bring Down syndrome awareness to people within the Ohio State program and fans of the team. On Jan. 14, the Buckeyes held an awareness game where the Dublin-based organization "Ability Matters" gave out shirts with Emmy's quote on the back that read, "Hear my words ... never give up."

"I haven't had the opportunity to play on a team where Emmy was there until I got here," Taylor said. "And so, you don't really realize all the things that they're truly capable of, and what they actually see. Obviously she's a light in my life, but you don't know how much of an impact you make on them as well."

Emmy Sheldon cheers for her sister Jacy during a game in 2021.
Emmy Sheldon cheers for her sister Jacy during a game in 2021.

As Jacy's career with Ohio State is nearing the end, coach Kevin McGuff has made it clear already that her family, including Emmy, will be more than welcome to continue being a part of the Buckeyes team.

Emmy Sheldon hugs her sister Jacy Sheldon after a game in 2021.
Emmy Sheldon hugs her sister Jacy Sheldon after a game in 2021.

If Emmy does end up going out to fewer games or is no longer around as often next season, it will be like a piece of the team's puzzle is missing, in McMahon's opinion.

"I think she's the team's biggest why, why do we do this," McMahon said. "Jacy mentions a lot that, not a lot of people like her sister have the opportunity to do what she does. So, it's not a 'she has to' or 'we have to,' it's a 'we get to.' "

Emmy Sheldon hugs her sister Jacy Sheldon after a game in 2021.
Emmy Sheldon hugs her sister Jacy Sheldon after a game in 2021.

For Jacy, who has watched Emmy grow up and wanted to stay in close proximity to her sister in Dublin, which is part of the reason she chose Ohio State, it meant a lot to hear her teammates speak with such high regard about the most important person in her life.

"Obviously she has a huge impact," Jacy said. "To see people like them talk about her and the impact she has made on them as well, it's pretty special."

bmackay@dispatch.com

@brimackay15

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Emmy Sheldon has impact on Jacy Sheldon's Ohio State basketball team