Basketball

Mistake by one leads to opportunities for many on basketball court

Posted September 25, 2013
Updated September 26, 2013

Our hometown spotlight focuses on a man who brought a much needed team to the area.

About a quarter-century ago, Mike Atkins made a mistake. Since then, he has spent nearly every moment making things better for people with serious injuries and disabilities.

As the founder of Triangle Thunder, one of the only wheelchair basketball teams in Eastern North Carolina, Atkins developed a way for people to share their experiences through sport, doing so on the basketball court.

Mistake by one leads to opportunities for many on basketball court Mitchell: Mistake by one leads to opportunities for many

"It's been a huge part of my life and the support network," said Kevin Bailey, a player on the team.

"This is an outlet, adaptive sports for people who are hurt or were born with a disability,” Atkins said of the team he started in 1992. “It is something that is needed."

Atkins wouldn't be as involved without making a mistake in the late 1980’s though. One night, after a few too many drinks, he wrecked his car.

"It was a stupid mistake. I knew better,” Atkins recalled “You've been drinking and you get behind a wheel of a car. What do you expect to happen?"

Left paralyzed from the waist down, Atkins admits to moments of sadness and regret.

"Everyone has that moment where they ask ‘why me?’” Atkins said. “’What did I do to deserve this? What am I going to do now?’"

Atkins’ answer? Do something.

Two decades ago, he saw a need and started this team.

"It was, ‘I screwed up and I'm not going to screw that up again.’”, Bailey said. “I'm going to move forward and move on.”

Twenty-one years later, Triangle Thunder is rolling – and welcoming new players all the time.

"When you get hurt, things change,” said Bailey. “Playing basketball is a reminder to me, it's the same sport I played before. There's a connection with the past. I don't feel disabled for that period of time."

The sport and the team alike serve as reminders to some that good things can still come from poor decisions.

"I keep doing it because I like living, I like breathing,” Atkins said. “It's not just staying positive to me. It's just, this is my life."

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  • Sauras69 Sep 26, 6:43 p.m.

    Great article. And, I really appreciate his courage, confession, and leading a good life while assisting ohters. He is using his expereince to make a difference. Super for him.

  • baldchip Sep 26, 10:43 a.m.

    Mike-thank you for sharing your story. Maybe some one will read this and think twice before starting that car while intoxicated.

    Your confession and story may save lives this very weekend!!

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 6
DUR 3
 
3rd
MIA 49
CHA 50
 
Final
CLE 6
TOR 4
Final
DET 2
ANA 1
 
11th
NYM 3
ATL 3
 
Final
MIA 3
SEA 2
11th
PIT 2
MIL 2
 
9th
WAS 2
STL 2
 
10th
TAM 1
NYY 1
 
8th
KAN 3
MIN 8
 
7th
CHC 0
CIN 6
 
6th
TEX 2
CWS 5
 
2nd
OAK 2
HOU 0
 
3rd
LOS 0
ARI 0
 
2nd
COL 1
PHI 1
 
2nd
SDP 0
SFG 4
 
7:05pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
Final
SAN 90
DAL 85
3rd
MIA 49
CHA 50
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
WAS
9:30pm Tonight
HOU
POR
Final
NYR 2
PHI 4
2nd
BOS 3
DET 1
 
7:00pm Tonight
MON
TAM
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
LOS
Final
NOR 6
DUR 3