SAN ANTONIO — As Alexus Cook strolls into the George Gervin Academy gymnasium, she prepares to sign her letter of intent to play collegiate basketball for UT Arlington.
"It definitely means a lot," Cook said.
For her, it is proof positivity can prevail with persistence.
"Once everything kind of happened, you never really see the light at the end of the tunnel and right now it's very bright."
On July 17, 2010, Tamika Cook had Alexus, then just 7 years old, in the car when she got in a terrible car accident.
Both were injured in the crash, but Alexus lost her left leg.
"(Alexus) has taught me to be resilient, even though I was in the accident with her," Tamika said. "She's definitely my inspiration. She's my hero."
After several years of therapy and reconstructive surgeries, Alexus started to adjust to life in a wheelchair. That's when basketball entered the picture.
"We weren't experienced with any types of sports until we were injured," Tamika said. "Then we discovered a program called STRAPS (South Texas Regional Adaptive and Para Sports)."
Alexus was not sold right away, but she came around.
"At the age of 10, I didn't want to do this. I didn't want to be different. I didn't want to be in a wheelchair. Now, I'm glad that this door has opened and I see multiple more doors opening as I continue my life."
Her journey to signing day started a few years back, at a UT Arlington basketball camp.
"Alexus came up there and she was just unbelievable," UT Arlington Lady Movin' Mavs head coach Jason Nelms said.
Tamika added, "It's the closest college that had wheelchair basketball available to her so, here we are!"
Nelms knew, from day one, that she was someone he wanted in his program.
"She's the heart and soul," said the two-time National Wheelchair Basketball Association champion. "It's so easy to gravitate towards her and people love her."
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For Spurs legend and NBA Hall of Fame member George "The Iceman" Gervin, Alexus is the quintessential example of why he started the George Gervin Academy.
"She's showing other people that handicap is mental," Gervin said. "You got to get up, move and believe in yourself. That's what Alexus is doing; she's showing people she believes in herself. She's getting a scholarship. We're real proud of her."
This is also just another milestone en route to Alexus's next major goal.
"I'm working up to going to the 2024 Olympics in Paris," Alexus said.
Nelms added, "It's an honor to be here today and welcome her to the UTA family and help her chase her Paralympic dreams."
Alexus accepts her disability.
It took time and patience, but she promises others the light at the end of the tunnel is there.
"Keep going. If it's your mind telling you that you can't, fight back because you're strong enough."
It has always been there.