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From Ethiopia to Idaho: Brey Steffensen’s Journey to Senior Night at Hillcrest

AMMON, Idaho (KIFI) - Hillcrest Boys Basketball has won back-to-back 4A state championships, and they chase a three-peat this season. Their unsung hero is their team manager, who finally got his chance to play on senior night Wednesday.

Brey Steffensen stole the show in his first career start when he scored his first career basket.

"It was wonderful," Steffensen said. "The whole gym went wild and they were chanting my name and it was just very special to me."

Brey's road to this point has been anything but easy.

Growing up in Ethiopia, Brey suffered from a rare disease called Lathyrism, an incurable neurological disorder that causes paralysis of the lower limbs. At one point, Brey couldn't walk.

While Brey was living in Ethiopian orphanage, Skyleur and Andrea Steffensen adopted Miles Steffensen from that same orphanage, where Andrea noticed Brey.

"She said, 'I just have this feeling that there's another kid there that needs us,'" Skyleur Steffensen said.

He was officially adopted in the fall of 2016. At this point, Brey had overcome Lathyrism to walk on his own again, but with a limp.

"I've done a lot of hard things in my life," Steffensen said. "And I've also done a lot of things that I couldn't do."

By the summer of 2017, he was playing baseball and Sports Line took notice because he was throwing darts.

"He pitched the whole season," Skyleur Steffensen said. "You guys did a story on him, and it was cool to see him just excel in that sport.

"But here we are today and it's a different sport, different time, and he's still having a blast."

A new love for basketball, and a love for the Golden State Warriors, turned into a love for the Hillcrest Knights.

He couldn't play due to his limp, but he could be a part of the team as a manager.

"I knew right away that he was a special young man and somebody that we needed in our program," Hillcrest Boys Basketball Head Coach Dave Austin said.

To most people, filling up water bottles and adjusting chairs is tedious, but for Brey, it's the time of his life.

"He has a smile on his face every day," Austin said. "Never a bad day for him."

"To have the attitude that he has and to just radiate that to his teammates, to his classmates, to his family members, that's a special thing," Skyleur Steffensen said.

"I've had so many memories of all the last four years," Brey Steffensen said. "I've made a lot of good friendships with all of them, the coaching staff to my teammates and even the student section."

So when he got his chance, he made the most of it. With the Knights leading by 40 in the late stages, he checked back in to try and hit a three.

"As Brey shoots, you can see the seniors and they're just holding their breath, seeing if he's going to make that shot," Skyleur Steffensen said. "And when he makes the shot, they just go crazy."

But he wasn't satisfied with one, and he got an assist from the Idaho Falls Tigers, the opposing team.

"They brought Brey back in," Idaho Falls Boys Basketball Head Coach Greg Guza said. "And at that point, Tegan Sorensen came over and said, 'I got him coach,' and I kind of smiled and he smiled.

"Brey got another chance, and Tegan tipped it to him, actually, and he splashed another one. To be a part of it, it was way special."

Brey said it was a dream come true.

"I wanted to hit those threes," Steffensen said. "After I made those two threes, I felt amazing and everybody was going crazy and my teammates were by me and just cheering for me."

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Eric Moon

Eric is the Sports Line director.


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