(Memphis) – It was all about the military Friday night at the Grizzlies game.
The Navy band kicked off the patriotic salute at FedExForum.
Then standing court side, retired Master Sergeant Sean Bennett got a big Memphis welcome, a standing ovation.
“It’s an awesome feeling” he said. “But it goes back to they’re standing for our nation our colors. I’m just able to be the guy that knows what that’s all about after 20 years.
But getting here wasn’t easy.
In 2006, Bennett was deployed to Iraq where he fought off a hostile takeover at his base.
“I got shot in the left arm while the insurgency was trying to come through the door. I was able to get him as he was coming through,” he said. “I still took the bullet but we were able to get him away from us.”
He earned a purple heart and moved back to Alaska and contacted a group called the Military Warriors Support Foundation.
“I applied for college help because I was trying to go back to college,” he said. ” Then Grizzlies and everybody else kinda just came together and said here you go and asked if I wanted to move to Tennessee.”
He was offered a new home, 100% mortgage free, in Sevierville, TN where he could live with his daughter.
“I thought it was a joke,” he said. ” I was nervous. I kept waiting for someone to walk through the door and go now get out.”
But he’s not going anywhere.
Friday night, in front of a cheering crowd, he got a life-size blue key to celebrate his new home and fresh start.
“I know I have a leg up now so I can take care of my family a lot easier,” he said.