Former Rhode Island star Delroy James aims to raise autism awareness in TBT 2021

 

By: Meghan Carroll


Autism Army is TBT's newest feel-good story

This summer, a new team hopes to follow the model that Sideline Cancer and Team Challenge ALS set before them. Autism Army, formed by former Team Fancy GM Griffin Taylor, is teaming up with the nonprofit Life’s Worc to play for something bigger than basketball.  

Founded in 1971, Life’s Worc provides support to people and families with intellectual disabilities and autism. Some of their programs include at-home support, behavioral intervention and skills development, vocational training and social recreational programs.

Taylor had reached out to a friend, booster Justin Resnick, who is on the board of Life’s Worc which is based in New York. 

From there Taylor spoke to former Rhode Island star Delroy James, who had played for him before on Team Fancy, and also has a son with autism. The organization became their driving force.

 

“[Life’s Worc] genuinely were just as interested in Delroy, his story and his son Jaylen,” said Taylor. “[They sent] follow up emails with links and resources that can help Jaylen.”

“Speaking to and being around individuals who genuinely put others before themselves and that genuinely get happiness out of helping others was something that opened my eyes to how important it was make a project or cause a team, in this case, about something that is bigger than yourself.”  

Joining Autism Army is Isaiah Swann, who also has a son with autism and has passion for the cause.

 

When getting the rest of the team assembled, Taylor pulled in Tiny Morton, a legendary coach from New York City. Morton was the recruiter in chief, helping pull in names such as Eugene Lawrence, Desi Rodriguez and Isaiah Whitehead.

The connections run even deeper on this team.

Barry Brown has played with Desi Rodriguez overseas. Shaquielle McKissic is a friend of James’. James Gist recruited Swann on the roster. D’Angelo Harrison and Suleiman Braimoh have also played for Taylor on Team Fancy. Additionally, Delroy James plays with Danny Agbelese in Greece. When it comes down to it, there are no strangers on this roster. 

 

Taylor describes it as a “melting pot” as to how the team came together and why they care about the cause they’re playing for.

“James [Gist] actually said to me he would get involved with the team on the grounds that we got Isaiah [Swann] involved," said Taylor, "because Isaiah has the son with autism, and how important it was to James that Isaiah be a part of this project."

“One of my biggest goals this summer is teaming up with Life’s Worc charity and TBT in terms of shedding light on the spectrum, of a child being autistic,” said James. “We’re hoping to just be playing the sport I love and fighting for a good cause.”