This past weekend provided the surprise of a lifetime for a young man who has shown nothing but passion and enthusiasm toward the game of football throughout his life.
Matthew Gray, known by his friends as Matty Ice, is the Assistant Football Coach at Park Ridge High School. Matt has lived and breathed Park Ridge football ever since he served as the team's student manager prior to graduating in 2017.
Matt also lives with Down syndrome, but the 21-year-old has never allowed that to slow his commitment to being on the sidelines for every one of the Park Ridge Owls games and practices.
Matt's legend in Park Ridge and beyond grew when he scored an unofficial touchdown during halftime of an Owls game a few years ago. The team proceeded to carry Matt off the field on their shoulders following the 20-yard run.
The emotional moment was captured on film and made its rounds on the Internet. Matt's story even caught the eye of Giants outside linebacker Kareem Martin, who was at Park Ridge High School last Friday night to surprise the assistant coach with a gift that he will remember for the rest of his life.
"I heard about your story and your touchdown from a few years ago," Martin said to Matt in front of a packed Park Ridge crowd. "It was really inspiring, being able to read that and to see you here right now. So, on behalf of me, the New York Giants and the National Football League, we are going to reward you with two tickets to Super Bowl LIV in Miami."
Matt's family, friends, teammates and fellow coaches describe him as dedicated, tenacious and passionate, three characteristics that any football team would be lucky to have in a coach.
The Giants wish Matt a fantastic weekend when he travels to Miami for Super Bowl LIV.