Unlikely relationship provides inspiration for NC Central's Moton

Posted February 18, 2013

— North Carolina Central head basketball coach LeVelle Moton has made plenty of friends during his basketball career, but it's a young woman he met off the court who inspires him the more than most.

While the minutes before a college basketball game are reserved for the most important items on a coach's to-do list, Leah Ward shoots to the top of Moton's pregame priorities when she visits an NC Central game.

Ward is 33 years old and suffers from Williams Syndrome, a rare condition that affects her development. She missed out on many things growing up - like the prom. That's where the friendship between Moton and Ward begins.

NC Central basketball has big fan thanks to unlikely friendship Mitchell: NC Central basketball has big fan thanks to unlikely friendship

The Eagles coach escorted Ward to the "Dance Like No One Is Watching" gala last year in Raleigh. The event serves as a make-up prom of sorts for adults with disabilities.

"One of the things we don't talk a lot about is the prom,” Moton said. “We've developed a great friendship. It's a trusting friendship"

The unlikely friends have a standing appointment to talk on the phone every Sunday. When Ward is feeling up to it, she can be found in the stands at McDougald-McLendon Gymnasium cheering for her favorite coach

"I love the team, I love the coach and I love that I can come here and watch the game,” Ward said. “It's really cool."

Ward isn't shy with her enthusiasm for the Eagles and Moton has even called on her to deliver the pregame speech before games.

"Do your best out there. Have fun and I know the game will be good,” Ward said to the 17-8 Eagles before a conference game earlier this season.

Her motivations have apparently stuck as NC Central is second in the MEAC with just five games to play before the conference tournament.

"For her to come in here with a smile on her face, in her circumstance, it lets them know whatever pressure you are going through in this game of basketball, let it go," Moton said. “They are kids and often times when you are 18 or 22 years old, you don’t understand your blessing.”

Ward and Moton’s relationship continues to serve as a reminder to the team that it is always okay to take time for a friend.


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Toddler10-21 Feb 20, 2013

    Yes he was a great player for the Eagles.

  • Capitals Fan Feb 19, 2013

    Didn't Levelle go to Enloe High? I am pretty sure I knew him in high school.

  • issymayake Feb 19, 2013

    Oh teams have been after him. We'll continue to enjoy him while he rebuilds the program at his alma mater. When he decides to move on, we'll wish him well.

  • Toddler10-21 Feb 19, 2013

    He will be on a big time college staff in the near future. Again a great guy.

  • StunGunn Feb 19, 2013

    What a wonderful story. With all the horrible things that have been happening lately, it is so refreshing to see a story like this. The world needs more people like Coach Moton.

  • Toddler10-21 Feb 19, 2013

    Great person in Coach Moten. I have known him for a while. I agree also that he wont be at NCCU for long. Great basketball mind.

  • bernardjaysr Feb 18, 2013

    Great story!!!

  • ncstateforever Feb 18, 2013

    I surprised some team hasn't grabbed up Coach Moton. He's a class act, but a great teacher of the game.

  • Triumph Feb 18, 2013

    A first class human being.

  • SportznutV2.0 Feb 18, 2013

    Story about Coach on ESPN now - about him and his player -wow




  • Hoops Headquarters: Run for Redemption

    Friday at 7:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Premier League Soccer: Southampton vs. Bournemouth

    Saturday at 12:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Golf: Shell Houston Open

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • World Figure Skating Championships

    Saturday at 8:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NHL: Boston @ Chicago

    Sunday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NASL: NCFC at San Francisco

    Saturday, Apr. 8 at 10:00 pm on WRAL-2

  • NASL: NCFC vs. Edmonton

    Saturday, Apr. 15 at 7:30 pm on WRAL-2

  • NASL: NCFC @ Miami

    Saturday, Apr. 22 at 7:30 pm on WRAL-2

  • NHL: Canes v. Columbus

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NASL: NCFC at San Francisco

    Saturday, Apr. 8 at 10:00 pm

  • NASL: NCFC vs. Edmonton

    Saturday, Apr. 15 at 7:30 pm

  • NASL: NCFC at Miami

    Saturday, Apr. 22 at 7:30 pm

Minor League Baseball
International League
Rochester 11:05 PT12:05 MT1:05 CT2:05 ET7:05 GMT
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 11:05 PT12:05 MT1:05 CT2:05 ET7:05 GMT
Pawtucket 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Lehigh Valley 
Toledo 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Norfolk 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Columbus 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Durham 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Puerto Rico Open (PGA)
1D. Points-20F
2tR. Goosen-18F
2tB. DeChambeau-18F
2tB. Lunde-18F
5tS. Saunders-17F
5tP. Uihlein-17F
5tW. Kim-17F
8tJ. Henry-16F
8tC. Stroud-16F
10tM. Flores-15F
View Full Leaderboard
Kia Classic (LPGA)
1M. Lee-20F
2tA. Ernst-14F
2tS. Ryu-14F
4tM. Hur-12F
4tK. Icher-12F
4tC. Kerr-12F
4tS. Park-12F
4tG. Piller-12F
9S. Feng-11F
10I. Chun-10F
View Full Leaderboard
WGC Match Play (EURO)
Leader in BOLD/CAPS
JOHNSON v Rahm181 up
Tanihara v HAAS172 and 1
View Full Leaderboard
ATP Scoreboard
Tuesday, Mar. 28
Miami Open (ATP/WTA)
Fourth Round
F. Fognini6 6    
D. Young0 4    
(2) K. Nishikori6 4 6   
F. Delbonis3 6 3   
(13) J. Sock6 6    
J. Donaldson2 1    
(10) T. Berdych6 7    
A. Mannarino3 5    
(5) R. Nadal6 77    
N. Mahut4 64    
(4) R. Federer77 77    
(14) R. Bautista A65 64    
(1) S. Wawrinka6 2 1   
(16) A. Zverev4 6 6   
(8) D. Goffin65 3    
(12) N. Kyrgios77 6    
WTA Scoreboard
Tuesday, Mar. 28
Miami Open (ATP/WTA)
(2) K. Pliskova6 6    
(26) M. Lucic-Baro3 4    
(12) C. Wozniacki6 6    
L. Safarova4 3