TIRR Memorial Hermann Hotwheels Star Peter Berry First Honoree
HOUSTON – What do you get when you combine passion, grit, perseverance, an unbelievable work ethic, kindness, compassion, love and a dream?
A person who can change perceptions and maybe the world. An athlete like Peter Berry.
The 18-year-old Emery/Weiner senior has impacted the adaptive sports community in Houston for nearly a decade, helping lead TIRR Memorial Hermann’s Junior Hotwheels basketball team to three national titles since 2012 and one national softball title. In the process, he became 2019’s No. 1 wheelchair
basketball recruit in the country and earned a scholarship to play on the two-time defending national champion University of Alabama’s wheelchair basketball team.
After losing the use of his legs following a car crash that took the lives of his parents in the summer of 2011 and left both Peter and his younger brother Aaron paralyzed, Peter fell in love with wheelchair basketball and dedicated himself on and off the court to the sport.
Berry is being honored for that dedication and perseverance with the inaugural 2020 Insperity Inspiration Award at the 2020 Houston Sports Awards on January 21 at the Hilton Americas. In partnership with Insperity, the award was created to honor inspirational individuals, teams or moments in the Greater Houston sports community.
“During the inaugural year of the Insperity Inspiration Award, there is no one more deserving than Peter Berry to receive this award,” said Jay E. Mincks, Insperity executive vice president of sales and marketing. “His optimism, strength and determination to overcome tragedy and have such a positive impact on others is an inspiration to us all.”
“There’s a lot of emotions,’’ said Berry, whose brother Aaron is also on the Hotwheels team. “It’s humbling and at the same time rewarding to see all the work I’ve put in pay off. But an award like this is a little different to me. With it comes a social responsibility. An obligation to pay it forward.”
“It’s thought-provoking. I didn’t know how to react at first. It was a lot to take in.’’
So is Berry’s dedication. He made the transition to adaptive sports quickly, making the Hotwheels national championship team in 2012. He has been a mainstay of that team and is changing the perception of adaptive sports, averaging 22 points per game, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and four steals per game. The best pure shooter on the team, he is hitting 40 percent of his shots from 3-point range. The Hotwheels won the national title again in 2015 and 2018 and Berry was the championship game MVP in 2018.
Berry was also featured in a June 2019 ESPN :60 documentary and was selected to make a “first shot” at a Houston Rockets game last spring.
Houston rallied around the Berry brothers and their sister Willa, who suffered just broken bones, after the July 2, 2011 accident which instantly killed their parents Robin and Josh. The three children were adopted by their aunt and uncle – Simone and Matt Berry – and rebuilt their lives. Athletes like J.J. Watt reached out to them and spent time with them as Peter and his siblings embraced their lives and looked forward, not back.
Eight years later, Peter can’t believe the changes he has seen with growth and resources added to
“To be able to win this, to live in this moment and to be able to affect change is super rewarding,’’ he said. “It’s pretty cool to see it and be living in it. I think I’m lucky.”
The third annual Houston Sports Awards will celebrate A Golden Era and will honor Carl Lewis, Mary Lou Retton and Rudy Tomjanovich as its third Hall of Fame Class. In addition, late Houston Texans owner Bob McNair is being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, Houston Astros owner Jim Crane is the Executive of the Year and Houston Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus will receive the Sportsmanship Award.
The finalists for five other awards are also listed on www.houstonsportsawards.com
About the Houston Sports Awards
The Houston Sports Awards presented by Insperity will be held on January 21, 2020 at the Hilton
Americas. The Award show will gather together Houston’s top athletes, both past and present, to
commemorate, celebrate and recognize Houston’s top sports achievements, performers and moments.