OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - St. Martin’s TaVaughn Gregory has been the student manager for the boys basketball team for four years. On senior night, he was honored with gift bags, balloons, applause, and a spot in the starting lineup - giving him a chance to play the sport he adores.
“I love basketball. It’s my favorite sport in the world,” TaVaughn said. “I’d do anything to play basketball.”
What's it like to go through a moment like that?
“Nervous at first, but great to have that reaction. It was kinda good for me. I had a good feeling.”
Persevering through a challenge is something TaVaughn is no stranger to. Last Friday night was more than just senior night. It was a chance to celebrate his accomplishments and his presence – two things that weren’t promised to him. He was born at just 25 weeks, and given a two percent chance to live. Today, he only has full use of the left side of his body. But he doesn’t let that define who he is.
“He falls, but when he falls he gets back up. Just perseverance, and being able to handle those things,” head coach Charlie Pavlus said. “You listen to mom, he wasn’t supposed to live. He wasn’t supposed to talk. He wasn’t supposed to walk. He doesn’t move at a full sprint, but he gets going. He’s overcome every obstacle that’s been put in front of him.”
His mere presence has a lasting impact on almost anyone who gets to know him – and that was on full display on senior night.
“I had about 15 former players come to the game,” Palvus said. “One came from Alcorn State who was on the team during TaVaughn’s tenure here. He wrote him a letter and put together a little picture collage and gave it to him on senior night. So TaVaughn touched him enough – and Alcorn is a good little hike down here – he made his post and said I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
When you see TaVaughn, you don’t have to wait long for him to put an infectious smile on his face. A smile that spreads happiness, optimism, and appreciation – three things no one can have enough of.
“TaVaughn can teach us all a lesson,” Pavlus said. “He just enjoys life. We’re talking about a kid that, it wasn’t promised to him. I’ve never seen him upset, never seen him sad, and TaVaughn teaches you how to do that. You watch him walk around and embrace life. He’s teaching everybody a lesson.”