The story behind the shot.
You all saw Sixers fan Mike Shelly hit the half court shot, but he's got a story bigger than basketball. pic.twitter.com/NlnNPKNUgi
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 21, 2017
Winning a shooting contest just before the buzzer in front of 20,000 fans is impressive, but in comparison to what Mike Shelly’s been through, it’s nothing.
The 76ers fan made news in his hometown on Saturday when he beat the Chick-Fil-A Basket Challenge during a second-quarter timeout of the 76ers’ loss to the Warriors. The teen had 45 seconds to nail a layup, free throw, 3-pointer and half-court shot before the buzzer sounded for fans to take home a free Chick-Fil-A chicken biscuit. It wasn’t a rosy start for Shelly, who made the layup with ease before clanking a few free throws, followed by routinely missing long from the 3-point stripe.
— shelly (@mike_shelly98) November 19, 2017
He finally got one to bounce in with about 10 seconds left, when he made his way to half court. With three seconds left, his desperate, running heave banked in and electrified the home crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.
“You’re the real MVP, congrats,” the MC said, as Shelly, in the background of the video, jumped up and down in excitement.
Shelly told the Philly Voice that the “amazing” moment was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. While that moment has been seen before in venues around the country, Shelly, 17, has a backstory that makes this buzzer-beater sweeter than others.
When he was a freshman in high school, Shelly was diagnosed with stage IV Burkitt lymphoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that causes the cells to abnormally reproduce. Just over a year ago, Shelly beat it and was declared cancer-free.
But in August, Shelly, who was entering his senior year at Marple Newtown High School, lost his 20-year-old brother, Andrew, after he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a fence. The team made sure to extend Shelly’s 15-minutes of fame.
“What everyone’s done and what everyone is doing for me right now — I mean, obviously they don’t have to be doing any of this. And for their kindness, I can’t thank them enough. It’s awesome,” Shelly said.
On Monday, the Sixers invited Shelly to their game against the Jazz, in which Philadelphia won, 107-86. He was gifted court-side seats, rang the ceremonial pregame Liberty Bell while Rookie of the Year favorite Ben Simmons told him he had a nice shot. He was given 76 Chick-Fil-A gift cards and was gifted a customized jersey from Markelle Fultz.
He’s also heading to Atlanta in March on the 76ers’ team plane, and he’ll watch the rising 76ers take on the Hawks while getting a tour of the Chick-Fil-A Support Center.
Mike Shelly, who beat cancer last year and then wowed fans in Philly by hitting incredible half-court shot on Satur… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…—
Dave Sholler (@DaveSholler) November 20, 2017
“People see me out there before they know my story, and they’re like, ‘Wow, that kid just hit a big shot. That’s so cool,’” he said when asked about his favorite part of this saga. “But after people and especially kids with pediatric cancer see [my story] – like, when I went through my whole treatment, it was really awesome to see kids who have gone through it do bigger things, or go on to play in the NFL like Eric Berry, who had cancer. Like, that was always a, ‘Wow! This does get better; things do happen after cancer.’ In the moment, it sucks. But if I was a kid in a hospital and saw that — another kid hitting a shot at the Sixers game — I’d be like, ‘Wow, he’s really enjoying himself.’
“That’s the biggest thing, I’d say, would be to help anyone out with what I did.”