Delroy James, whose son has autism, playing in $1 million tourney in son’s honor

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NEW YORK — The biggest lesson was patience.

Raising a child with autism and teaching him life tasks requires extra time and attention from Delroy James. Frustration doesn’t help.

“Now I’m trying to teach my son how to tie his shoelaces,” James says. “And that is just a task. Like, ‘Hey, buddy, remember this. Hey buddy, remember that.’ Because with his motor skills and fingers, it’s hard. Patience is the biggest thing.”

James noticed his son’s delayed reactions before the autism diagnosis, which arrived when Jaylen was 2 years old.

“From then,” James says, “it’s pushing and hoping and teaching how he can be independent with this thing called life.”

As a professional basketball player constantly relocating around the globe, James’ time as a present father was limited. His Wikipedia “career history” reads like a United Nations assembly — Israel, Oklahoma, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Philippines, Nicaragua, Spain, China and even a team in Siberia.

He’s a global journeyman.

Born in Guyana with seven siblings before immigrating to Brooklyn, James, 34, has carved out a 10-year career as a lefty power forward after graduating from the University of Rhode Island.

Still, he listed being a father to Jaylen as his greatest accomplishment. And his next basketball endeavor is something of a tribute to his son.

James is the captain of Autism Army, one of 64 teams participating in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) that begins next weekend. It’s a New York-centric squad, assembled by team GM Griffin Taylor, with names familiar to the local basketball scene — former St. John’s star D’Angelo Harrison, former Bishop Loughlin All-American Jayvaughn Pinkston, former Christ the King standout Ryan Pearson and the coach, Tiny Morton, who once guided the Coney Island powerhouse Lincoln High.

It’s a winner-take-all tournament for $1 million, and Team Autism, seeded fifth in its region, has pledged to donate a portion of its potential winnings to Life’s WORC, a nonprofit with a Garden City facility that specializes in services for autistic children.

Janet Koch, the CEO of Life’s WORC, said its Family Center for Autism supports roughly 600 children throughout the year, and she was hoping to recruit James’ family before their visit to the facility Friday afternoon.

“Families with children with autism, when they drop them off to leave, you typically can’t leave, or if you do, you dread the phone call from the instructor saying its not working. That’s a heartbreaking experience,” Koch says. “Here, we are supporting and working with all the tools and trained personnel to help the kids be more independent.”

A victory for Autism Army would mean roughly $80,000 for scholarships at Life’s WORC, according to Taylor. It’s a grueling road that would require six victories in just nine days, with the final broadcast on ESPN on Aug. 3. Win or lose, the team has a greater purpose and message than just basketball. The philanthropic idea was contrived by Taylor, a coordinator of NYC basketball tournaments at Rucker Park and Dyckman, among other streetball locales.

Griffin assembled four previous teams in TBT under a corporate nickname, but the autism awareness connection seemed natural and fitting. Another member of the roster, Isaiah Swann, also has a son diagnosed with autism.

Then there is James, nicknamed “Professional” in streetball because of his business and focused approach, who can certainly understand the importance of a proper and patient learning environment for children with special needs.

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