When the Denver U16 Boys Basketball Team took on Las Vegas, Team Denver was leading by 12 points in the fourth quarter. What followed was unbelievable.

Las Vegas subbed in Gabriel Hafter, a young athlete who suffers from Treacher Collins Syndrome, which causes him to have a soft bone structure so he is unable to play sports. Gabriel didn’t have a Vegas jersey to wear, so Denver’s Ben Rover took off his jersey and gave it to him. Gabriel dribbled up, guarded by Denver’s Adam Merenstein, and pulled up for a three.

He drained it.

The entire gym—his team, Denver’s team, both benches, the coaches, the referees and everyone else watching—erupted in applause and cheering.

Gabriel showed us just how good he would be if he could play basketball regularly. He became a celebrity among the Denver delegation, everyone wanted to meet him. Gabriel now has Ben’s jersey, as well as contact information of each person on the team and myself, and he has since become friends with many of the athletes on Denver’s team.

The day after the game, Team Las Vegas’ flights were delayed and they had to spend the night in Denver. Immediately, many members of Team Denver contacted their parents to offer up their homes.

Compassion, kindness, and inclusivity are all core at the Maccabi Games, and during this particular moment, we witnessed all three happen at once.


Adam Slosky, U-16 Maccabi Games Tennis Player