THE COLONY — It's senior night at The Colony — the last home basketball game for the class of 2014.
As the players warm up, Brian Bravo sits at half court. He goes to most of the practices, but this is his first game.
Brian is also graduating in May. And the community from The Colony high school is doing everything it can to make sure he's ready for the next step.
For eight years, Brian's story is one that stayed with the Bravo family: His brother Nicki, father Jose and stepmother Eloisa.
But then the basketball team brought him into its family and learned his story.
"And from there it has grown to another class at our school," said The Colony head basketball coach Cleve Ryan. "And then it's grown to the entire school, and now the community and outside the community."
In 2005, Brian and his family were driving home from Mexico when when they lost control of their car and crashed. It killed Jose Bravo's wife, his brother-in-law, his daughter, and put 13-year-old Brian in a wheelchair.
Jose's youngest son Nicki survived, as did his infant grandson.
"It's tough to have ... lost half the family," Jose Bravo said. "But the other half survived, so y'know, I have to keep going."
It takes Jose Bravo about two-and-a-half minutes to get Brian out of the car and into his wheelchair. The family car is an old, small, beat up, four-door sedan. The wheelchair goes in the truck, which is too big for the trunk and has to be strapped in. Brian sits in the reclined front seat.
"It's not easy, but once again, I do anything for Brian," said Jose. "Anything."
"It's my son and he really need me, so, you know, I help him in the way I can, until I can't," he continued. "Because he start getting heavier, and I start getting older."
Seeing Jose Bravo wrestle his son out of the car and into the chair is what inspired the fundraiser. The Colony is trying to collect enough money to buy the Bravo family a wheelchair-accessible van.
The school sold "Bravo4Brian" bracelets for $2 each.
"We are at $950 just from donations — that doesn't include concessions," said The Colony fundamental life skills teacher Kristen Crenshaw.
She was accepting donations during the Cougars' senior night basketball game. "I think our goal is $2,000, and I think we reached it and exceeded it," Crenshaw said.
The goal of this and other fundraising efforts is to raise between $15,000 and $50,000 before Brian graduates. Because when school ends, the bus won't come to pick him up any more, and he won't have anywhere to go during the day.
Good sports teams consider themselves family, and the Cougars have treated Brian like a big brother.
"He's just there, he's another person — another brother to us," said sophomore guard RJ Pair. "He's a part of the team."
"He just always smiles when he's around us, and he always seems happy," said senior guard Ethan Smith. "He always has that big smile on his face no matter what you say to him."
Around the program, he's called "Coach Brian," and some days, it's up to him whether the players run.
He can lift his left leg up a few inches; when he does that, it means they don't run. Coach Brian doesn't decide every day, but when he does, the players don't. And that's another reason they love him.
Brian won't be "coaching" in the playoffs because the Cougars didn't make it, but this season will be unforgettable for everyone involved with this team.
"You hope it means something now," said head coach Cleve Ryan. "But at the same time it may mean more to them later on as they start to grow as young men, whether it's after high school or when they become a parent."
"It's a blessing to be able do things that not everybody can do — playing basketball, especially," said junior guard Triston Alexander. "I know he'd love to be out there playing any sport, so that's a blessing."
"I love to watch him, to enjoy whenever they talk to any students, epsecially the coach," said Jose Bravo, Brian's father. "[I] know he's been enjoying that. I love that, love to watch that."
Seven players were honored on senior night, and the impact Brian has had on them was clear. The seven were introduced individually, and the announcer said a few words about each of them. Among their career highlights, they said, was being involved with Brian Bravo.
And then it was Brian's turn.
A teammate wheeled him through the introduction line, cheerleaders on either side.
Then it was out to mid court for the opening tip. The Colony won the tip, and the players from Frisco Liberty let the Cougars escort Brian down court with the basketball in his lap. When they got to the basket, Ethan Smith passed it to Seth Ledey for a dunk and the first two points of the game.
"I hope he was enjoying it, and I could tell by his smile that he was," said Coach Ryan. "Hopefully it's something our players will remember for a long time — they'll remember this night."
"That's very nice," said Jose Bravo. "I feel so good, make the first shot and put two points."
It's a tragic story, and it's still very hard on a daily basis for Jose to take care of his son. But it's meaningful and fulfilling in a way that few people can understand.
"To be his father, y'know, I'm ... I'm so glad," said Jose. "Because uh, I believe that if I was in that situation, he does the same for me."
Brian's story is a long way from being over. But the chapter about his senior year at The Colony almost is, and it's one he and his family will never forget.
You can donate to "Bravo4Brian" by going to this site and adding the memo "Bravo4Brian" on the PayPal page.
You can also mail a check or money order to:
Calvary Christian Center
5220 Blair Oaks Drive
The Colony, TX 75056