GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A 22-year-old from West Michigan is proud to have carried the stars and stripes in Thailand.

Gabe Den Braber represented Team U.S.A. during the Men’s Wheelchair Basketball World Championship and just returned to the United States after a trip that he describes as incredible.

“It was really funny because a lot of people would take out their phones and record us and say they love the U.S.A. team,” said Den Braber

He is from Grand Rapids. He was born with spina bifida, a condition where the spinal cord doesn’t form properly. It affected his lower limbs and his ability to walk but never stopped him from giving his best in basketball.

Den Braber fell in love with the sport when he was 14, the first time he played wheelchair basketball at Mary Free Bed’s Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp. Although his dad was the one who convinced him to join the team, he said he made the choice to give it his all.

“The biggest sensation honestly was just that I felt like an athlete, like a normal kid,” he said. “You get put into the stigmatization when you are in a chair, that is what defines you. When I got to be in that basketball chair I didn’t feel like I was in a chair, but more like a regular athlete, that I could just be free”.

He is attending the University of Illinois now where he is majoring in communications. He won a scholarship to play college wheelchair basketball.

Den Braber still comes back to Mary Free Bed’s Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp every year as a teacher to inspire kids that deal with similar issues to put 100% of themselves to achieve everything they dream in life.

He hopes to have the chance to represent team U.S.A. again sometime.