FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – People know Bob Knight for a number of things; winning three national championships, leading IU to a perfect season in 1976, and for throwing chairs. For one Ossian family, it was the General’s generous heart that touched their lives forever.
On June 17th, 1986 Bob Knight emceed a benefit dinner for Nathaniel “Nat” Leamon at Norwell High School. The five year old suffered from cerebral palsy and his family was raising money for an electric wheelchair. Knight spoke at the benefit dinner and made a special impact on the five year old’s life.
“I remember he picked me up. He said if you get better you can play for me,” Nat recalled 30 years later.
While the now 35 year old never suited up for a game at Assembly Hall, he was Knight’s guest of honor for three Big Ten games during the ’86-87 season, the last time IU won a national championship.
After the final game, Nat never saw Bob Knight again. So when he saw Knight would be in town signing autographs at Playball Ink he knew he had to go.
After waiting in line for well over an hour Nat got the reuinion he waited 30 years for. With the article from the benefit in tow the Leamon family reintroduced themselves to the Hall of Fame coach. Knight remembered the little boy he met all those years ago standing before him now as a man.
Knight signed the article for Nat and at the bottom of the picture he wrote “You could’ve played for me” – the highest praise from one of the most legendary figures in sports history.