Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2014

Most folks that have followed North Rowan basketball in recent years know the Mikes, Michael Bowman and Michael Connor, that have been integral to the success of the Cavaliers’ run to the state championship.
But there’s another Mike who’s had an immeasurable impact.
Michael Ranson can’t cheer as loud as the rest of big green nation, but he’s still vocal.
Ranson is a senior at North and has cerebral palsy along with his younger sister Abbie. You’ve probably seen him
Michael will be there Saturday when North plays Kinston for the state 2A championship.
He can only speak a few words at a faint volume, but his spirit is communicated through all home games from the time North enters the floor.
Michael, a senior at North, loves UNC, the Carolina Panthers and Kobe Bryant but the Cavaliers, especially Connor, are the feature act in his sports bill.
He can’t make 3s or break down a defense, but young man has found a way to be impactful on the team, school and community. When the Cavs come out of the locker room for warmups at home games, Ranson is first to lead them.
“It’s just a joy to see a kid in his condition always happy,” North coach Andrew Mitchell said. “Whenever you can help a person like that, you have to open your heart to him.”
Bowman stops to give him a hug after another nail-biting victory in the regional. Ranson’s been a calming presence in what’s been a whirlwind postseason for the Cavaliers. Afterwords, he’s given access to the North locker room where it’s time to celebrate the win.
After all, he’s part of the team.
“It’s great the way the guys on the team have embraced him,” said his father Dallas. “They’re all great young men.”
You could also say his ability to preserve has rubbed off on the Cavs, who have walked the postseason tightrope and with just them and Kinston left.
During Sunday’s action, he was there beside the bench lifting his arms up for free throws sporting a North jersey over one of the Cavs’ warmup shirts.
March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness month and nobody is more aware than Dallas, who raise Michael and Abbie with wife Angela.
“Everybody has disabilities,” Dallas said. “But if you’re having a bad day or something…it’s like why am I complaining? I can walk, run, get a drink of water or do what I want to. He can’t.”
Michael carries a 3.7 GPA, plenty good enough to be in the National Honor Society and have a role in Student Government. His favorite subject is match and he hopes to enroll at Rowan Cabarrus Community College next year. He’s talked about opening a motorcycle shop with Dallas.
His ‘One-on-One’ Hoffman says Michael is a hit with the ladies and recently asked a girl to the prom on his computer. Of course she obliged.
Sounds pretty normal, but moreso exceptional.
“I’ve watched him meet many challenges with his disability,” said Hoffman, who’s worked with Ranson since Kindergarten. “His smile blinds my eyes and breaks my heart.”
His parents bring him to most of the home football and basketball games
Dallas, who attended the Smoky Mountain game with Michael, works at Forbo in Huntersville
He’s got some of his dad’s ability to stand out. Dallas has facial hair similar to a Duck Dynasty character. Michael doesn’t have facial hair but does carry a mohawk, not unlike Cavs’ point guard Jalen Sanders.
“He’ll put other people first in front of him,” Dallas said. “He’s good-hearted and has a good sense of humor.”
The team has accepted him and not just on a superficial level. Connor has come over to his house to play video games and go swimming. It’s hard for him to emote, but Ranson points at Connor in the tunnel after Sunday’s game. He’ll wear a No. 12 jersey, Connor’s number, today during spirit day.
“It’s a blessing to be around him,” Connor said. “I talked to him one day after school and he said he was coming to the game and he surprised us one day by coming in the locker room.”
Almost exactly three years ago, North won the state 1A title in Reynolds with Ranson in attendance. Some players have moved on, but Connor wants his senior year to end like his freshman one.
A state crown with Ranson by his side.
“Everytime I see him at school, he cheers me up,” Connor said. “He’s a cool dude and we have a special relationship that I really cherish.”