Shaka Smart welcomes Morgan Vega (center) to the VCU Basketball program Thursday.

Shaka Smart welcomes Morgan Vega (center) to the VCU Basketball program Thursday.

“You’re part of the team now,” VCU Men’s Basketball Coach Shaka Smart told 17-year-old Henrico native Morgan Vega Thursday afternoon.

Vega, who has battled serious, lifelong health issues as a result of cerebral palsy, was introduced as the newest member of the Rams during a press conference at the Stuart C. Siegel Center.

Surrounded by the Smart, the basketball team, and friends and family, Vega signed a National Letter of Intent and was was presented with official VCU Basketball gear.

“You always want people to be part of your organization who have a passion and an enthusiasm about what you’re doing. Morgan is a young man who has certainly had some adversity, but he’s got a great attitude, he’s got a great smile. He loves VCU Basketball and we’re excited to having him here,” Smart said.

Vega is a participant in Team Impact, which aims to “improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team”, according to the organization’s official website. Earlier this fall, Team Impact and VCU Field Hockey joined forces to sign 4-year-old Lauryn Lewis.

Afterwards, Vega posed for pictures with the men’s basketball team and received hugs and well-wishes from friends and family.

“I think it’s a good reminder for our players that there are a lot of people out there that look up to them, and in this case, Morgan is really not much younger than our guys. I think for our guys it’s a humbling reminder of just the perspective that’s out there and the reality that in our small world of VCU Basketball, there’s a lot of people that are watching what we’re doing,” Smart said.

To learn more about Team Impact, visit