ABBEVILLE — Devounce Lampkin isn’t listed on the official Abbeville High basketball roster, but he’s a very important part of the team.
“The kids just love him, and all the kids look out for him,” coach Anthony Carter said. “We call him the High Sheriff. It’s just amazing to watch the excitement on his face once when he gets out there and plays.”
Lampkin deals with autism, a condition often causing communication and learning problems. Fitting in with the students at Abbeville, however, has never been an issue for the outgoing Lampkin.
“We’ve been in school together from elementary all the way through high school,” senior basketball player Eric Truitt said. “I mean, I love Devounce. He’s just a good person to be around.”
Lampkin has a smile that lights up a room. He was voted Homecoming King and Most Artistic by the senior class.
“He actually can draw almost complete episodes from Sponge Bob (cartoon),” special education teacher Suzanne Bush said.
Lampkin says “I use my imagination” when asked about his drawing skills.
In basketball, he can swish through 3-pointers with the best of them. Lampkin takes regular P.E. classes and practices shooting long outside shots over and over again.
“That’s why they gave him the number 33, because he’s all about the threes,” Bush said. “This year coach Carter decided to put him on the team. Some of the kids on the team asked if he could be on it. Our kids are wonderful here.”
Lampkin served as manager of the basketball team several years ago, but has dressed out with the varsity basketball team for home games this season.
Last Monday was Senior Night for Abbeville against Ashford and Lampkin was inserted into the starting lineup with the other seniors.
Since Lampkin isn’t on the official roster, arrangements had to be coordinated with the Ashford head coach Chase Lewis for an extra minute and a half to be put on the first quarter clock for Lampkin’s time in the game.
Lampkin took full advantage, connecting on a shot and also hitting a free throw.
“Practice makes perfect,” Lampkin said with a grin when recalling his big night. “It was a lot of fun.”
It was a joy for Carter, too.
“I spoke to coach Lewis, who is a great guy, and he offered to make it work,” Carter said. “Everything just rolled perfect…the look on his face when he scored.”
The players — both for Abbeville and Ashford — showed their excitement for Lampkin as well.
“That’s what he’s been wanting to do his whole life, and that’s something we wanted for him,” Truitt said.
Lampkin has always had a love for basketball.
“He practices every day at home,” said his grandmother, Arlene Jones. “Devounce is an outgoing individual and does what he’s told. He loves to have fun.”
Lampkin also enjoys taking a role as an officer of sorts on campus. He proudly wears a gold Henry County Sheriff badge every day to school that was presented to him by several officers. If the students are being too loud, he’ll ask them to be quiet.
“He’ll go out when the seventh and eighth graders are going to breakfast, and he’ll stand out there and high-five each one of them,” Bush said.
Bush has taught Lampkin for six years and gets emotional talking about him.
“When he’s in the classroom, he just makes everybody else do well,” Bush said. “Grade-wise, he has great possibilities to learn. I can see him getting a job after school because he’s just that type of personality and he’s so easily managed.
“I know I’m going to be a mess when he leaves. He’s just one — I may get teary-eyed — he’s just special, extraordinary.”
The 18-year-old Lampkin knows it will be time to move on following his senior year. He’s made a positive impact on campus and will be missed by many.
“I can’t be here forever,” Lampkin simply said.