When Mike deBettencourt captained the basketball team at MVRHS, his wildest dream was to someday play in Boston Garden. While he never made it to the Garden as a player, deBettencourt made it to the venerated parquet floor Monday night, when he was honored at halftime by the Celtics before a sellout crowd as a “Hero Among Us.”
The “Heroes Among Us” program, started by the Celtics in 1997, honors people who have made “an overwhelming impact on the lives of others.” Mike deBettencourt, owner of deBettencourt’s Garage on New York Avenue, was given the prestigious award for donating a kidney to his ailing father-in-law, Tony daRosa, in December.Without deBettencourt’s kidney, daRosa faced years on a waiting list for a new kidney, or an abbreviated lifetime of dialysis. “It was an awesome night,” deBettencourt told The Times on Tuesday morning. “I only found out I was getting it this past Friday. It’s been a whirlwind. The Celtics had to win game seven on Saturday to make it all happen.”
He said he didn’t think twice about donating his kidney once it was determined the two were a match.
“We’re good friends; he’s been an important part of my life for a long time,” he said. “I’ve been married to his daughter Erin for 25 years. It was the first time the doctors at Tufts Medical Center had ever seen a match between a son-in-law and a father-in-law.”
A lifelong Celtics fan, deBettencourt said he’s been to many games at the Garden over the years. But not in seats like he had Monday night.
“We were right under the basket, just to the left and one row behind where the owner sits,” he said. “He was sitting with [Patriots owner] Robert Kraft. They were $1,100 seats. It was unbelievable. We also watched warm-ups from the Celtics bench.”
He said the best part of the night was sharing it with his family. “It was special because my whole family, my wife and my five kids were all there,” he said. “The Celtics offer you four seats, but I was able to get two tickets from a friend, and my wife and my oldest son Mike sat in those seats.”
Basketball runs deep in the deBettencourt family. His daughter Molly was a star player on the MVRHS girls basketball team, scoring over 1,000 points in her high school career. She recently committed to play basketball at Emmanuel College in Boston.