His Final Game Was an Away at Home

Matt O’reilly

Matt O’reilly

I’m going through my Instagram stories and see a post that my friend Matt O’reilly and his Bucknell team were coming out to the bay to play Saint Mary’s College. He was on a AAU team I followed with for a summer & I’ve got a bunch of fond memories of him on those trips.

Here’s a mixtape I made of him from those trips.

The game would take place in his hometown Moraga, CA. After making my way through some of the trash traffic from San Francisco & getting my credential from the will call, the first two people I talk to when I walk in the gym are Matt & Jordan Ford. That boy Ford has been tearing it up this season but that’s a post for another time. When he left to go get ready, Matt told me it was going to be his final collegiate basketball game because of an ongoing back problem he has. For a second I was feeling pretty sad but I knew I couldn’t change anything about his physical health. What I could do though was capture his final game.

Matt was looking good in warmups. He was hitting shots and moving around well.

He was feeling it a bit in his back but things seemed fine.

After seeing him dunk, I was wondering if he had just lied to me.

Mr. O’reilly capturing some shots of his son.

Game time.

Despite starting the game he played for about 2-3 minutes and sat the rest of the first half. He would get back in with 10 minutes left in the game.

He got a great look on his first shot, just didn’t go.


Everyone was waiting for Matt to sink a 3 pointer.

He would get a few more looks but couldn’t nail any of them, then started to pass up some shots & got taken out. T would get a few more chances though, getting back into the game with about 3 minutes left.

The ball was just not going to go in the basket one time, on his final attempt he got blocked & it even looked like the guy felt like he had made a mistake for even contesting the shot.

It wasn’t the ending anyone really wanted. Kid retires from college basketball because of back issues, goes to his hometown for his final game & doesn’t score. Kind of makes you question life a little.

Here’s what happened when Matt came back out the locker room.

Pretty emotional if you ask me. After things winded down a bit, I told Matt to get everyone who came out for him to gather up for that photo.

Man does my phone have a great camera.

Man does my phone have a great camera.

Didn’t have my mic with me but, you can feel what he’s saying.

Even though he didn’t get what he wanted in his final game, Matt already has something worth more than that, and it’s Genuine love & support from real people.

George NguyenComment