Hopkins Hoops Manager Gets Special Night At Target Center
Grant Petersen has a passion for basketball that transcends age and style, winning and losing. He just loves the game regardless of outcome.
And he has the enthusiasm to back it up. The combination of the two led to Grant standing on the Target Center court on Tuesday night, right in front of his own courtside seats a couple chairs down from Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor’s, with his hands in the air being recognized on the big screen while receiving an ovation from the crowd.
That doesn’t happen for just anyone, but Grant has a unique story.
Grant, a senior at Hopkins High School, was born with Down syndrome. He was the student manager for the Royals’ boys basketball team throughout his high school career, and he began his affiliation with the team as a freshman. Over the years, he’s become a staple of the team. His cheering, excitement and passion are all on display every game.
So when Hopkins made a run at the state title this year, Grant’s exuberance was on full display. The Royals lost the state championship game to Lakeville North last month, but even in defeat Hopkins’ student manager let his passion for the game be known. While some Royals players showed frustration in losing the Class AAAA title game, Petersen proudly accepted his second-place medal, throwing his hands in the air like he did on Tuesday while displayed on the big screen at this week’s Timberwolves game.
For Grant, basketball is basketball. The love for the game is always present.
“Sitting with Grant, he reacts the same way as he does at our games,” said Lukas Jorgensen, a fellow Hopkins senior who accompanied his friend to the Wolves game. “Which is cool to see.”
It was Grant’s excitement in the midst of defeat that led to his courtside experience at Target Center. The Timberwolves reached out to Grant’s family after the special showcase of sportsmanship and asked if they’d like to be the team’s special guest at an upcoming Wolves game. Pick a game, and the tickets are yours, the team said.
Jerry Petersen, Grant’s dad, said they picked the Spurs’ game because, second to the Wolves, San Antonio is Grant’s favorite team. They had a chance to see the Spurs play at AT&T Center in San Antonio a couple years back, and they thought it would be fun to see his two favorite teams play each other in person.
Jerry and Grant enjoyed the game with Grant’s friend, Lukas Jorgensen, and Lukas’ dad, Steve.
Turns out they got courtside seats, feet on the hardwood, and an experience like no other.
“For the first five minutes, I’m not even watching the game,” Jerry said. “I’m just in awe of the players just running around. I had no idea, absolutely no idea.”
The opportunity was unexpected, and it turned into this once-in-a-lifetime Timberwolves experience. Sitting up close, Grant got a chance to see some of his favorite players, including Ricky Rubio, compete right in front of him on the court and huddle up on the bench just a few steps to his left.
“It’s a privilege, an absolute privilege,” Jerry said.
Grant’s act of sportsmanship and excitement for the game, win or lose, acts as an example to all sports fans that basketball—and life—are really more about experiences and joy than anything else. His actions after the state championship game will be far more memorable to most people in attendance than any one play or the final score.
That memory will shine brighter than the rest.
“Second place,” Jerry said. “Second ain’t so bad.”