Oxford shooting survivor nominated for Jersey Mike’s Naismith Courage Award
OXFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) – John Asciutto, a survivor of the Oxford high school shooting, is nationally recognized. His athletic director nominated him for the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Courage Award, and it came as a total surprise.
Additionally, the student-athlete learned that he was one of 10 finalists nationally.
“It’s a great feeling. I can’t be more grateful. Just honored,” Asciutto told 7 Action News.
Athletic director Tony DeMare said to qualify, applicants must be high school seniors, who play college basketball and show courage.
“It was really an easy choice to just be able to reflect — John being a brave person and what he’s done, what he means to our school, the athletic department and the community,” DeMare explained.
When asked, Asciutto defined what “Oxford Strong” means to him.
“We’re just a tough community. Nothing can break us,” he replied.
The motto emerged after the darkest day in the city’s history. Asciutto, who was shot in the back of the leg, did not want to talk about the day. Instead, he spoke with 7 Action News about his future, his love of college football and basketball.
Asciutto recalled his return to hardwood to a standing ovation.
“It was a good time for me. I felt loved and I was happy,” he said.
The high schooler recalled what it felt like to be cleared to play by his doctor after recovering 100% physically.
“It was a really good feeling. I mean, even today, going out and playing, it’s just like, it’s crazy and I don’t take it for granted at all,” he explained. .
Men’s college basketball head coach Steve Laidlaw said Asciutto’s appointment was “incredibly well deserved.”
“I don’t think anyone knows the kind of trauma and adversity that the whole school, but especially John, went through,” he said.
Laidlaw recalled: “He said, ‘Coach, I can’t wait to get back. “”
The coach said the motto and goal this year was to ‘keep moving forward’.
“And John did it with incredible courage and tenacity, and he brought his teammates a lot of joy, peace and hope,” explained Laidlaw.
Asciutto lifted others up while remaining humble. DeMare said Asciutto’s modesty is one of the reasons he surprised him with the nomination and one of the reasons he deserves a win.
The male and female winners of the Naismith Courage Award will be announced on April 12.