Wheelchair court-stormer OK, says 'It was worth it'
Posted January 12, 2013
Updated January 14, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Although C.J. Leslie's performance during NC State's 84-76 win over Duke will likely get much of the attention on Tobacco Road in the coming days, a post-game assist by Leslie and others that helped keep a wheelchair-bound student who had rushed the court safe probably deserves equal play.
That student, senior Will Privette, said he knew he would be part of the celebration following the Wolfpack's triumph. He just wasn't sure how.
"Two years ago when we beat Duke, I rushed the court," he said. "But I waited for the first round of people to go. That was my original plan today, just to do that."
As the end of the game neared, however, PNC Arena staff and others asked Privette if he wanted to be at the front of the line.
"Student body president Andy Walsh asked me if I wanted him to push me," he said. "As soon as the buzzer rang, we rushed."
Shortly after, as Privette and Walsh neared the jump circle, Privette's wheelchair was knocked over by the crowd. He went tumbling, and found himself at the bottom of a pile of happy Wolfpack fans for "what seemed like forever."
Privette wasn't hurt, but he was worried, and said he kept his arms over his face to protect his glasses.
"I was worried about my glasses and my phone, as sad as that is," Privette said.
Leslie, who had been busy celebrating with the crowd, eventually saw Privette and told everyone to get back. The junior forward swooped in, picked up Privette and proceeded to hold him "like a baby" while the crowd continued to celebrate.
“I just saw him there and people were surging in around him,” said Leslie, who scored a game-high 25 points in the game. “I knew it could end up a bad situation.”
Privette said he had no thoughts of leaving the court before the celebration was over.
"Once he had me, I was like 'Let's go," Privette said. "It was the dumbest thing I've done since I've been in college, but it was worth it. Sports is my life."
Privette, who has been in a wheelchair his entire life, said leg deformities he had at birth forced him to have his leg amputated at 6 years old. He does statistical analysis for NC State's baseball team and will graduate in May.