Lee’s basketball squad notches tournament division title

Youngster plays for Eastside Special Olympics team.

Benny Lee has been dribbling his way up court and launching shots at the hoop for just six months, and he’s already a basketball champion.

The 12-year-old seventh-grade Islander Middle School student plays ball for the Redmond International Buddies Braves, a Special Olympics team that recently notched the Subregional Tournament Junior Division Championship.

Lee has delayed development, according to his mother Yan Lu, who said that her son brings energy and positivity to the court and enjoys socializing with his teammates and trying new things.

“This team was designed to recruit special-ed kids, so that Ben can join and then meet some friends. It also can improve his skill at basketball because some kids are better, so he can learn from them,” Lu said through a Mandarin interpreter on a recent afternoon. “I think he made a right choice to join this team so he can meet some friends.”

Lee, who scored 10 total points in the final two games of the tournament, is having a blast interacting with his teammates and gets a thrill out of racking up baskets to help lead his team to success.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said about winning the title.

“Their teamwork and dedication shone in their hustle and success on the court,” reads the International Buddy website.

Added Lu regarding watching her son excel on the court: “I was very happy and very proud that my kid can play so well.”

Lee’s favorite aspects of being involved with a basketball squad are honing his skills and engaging in crucial teamwork. When asked about who he admires in the NBA realm, Lee’s eyes lit up while praising 6-foot-9 power forward LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers as a “great basketball player.”

Braves coach Chuang Liu delved into Lee’s athleticism and personality: “Ben is a great defender, and is always ready to share the ball with teammates. He brings energy and dedication to every game and practice, making him a real pleasure to have around.”

The hoopster will stayed focused on playing basketball for now, but will also add some swimming and soccer into his sports mix. Another one of his interests is wedging together Legos.

Lu and her family have resided on Mercer Island for four years and she said they are elated to be a part of the city environment and a nice neighborhood. On the school front, Lee likes what he experiences when spending time on the Islander Middle School campus.