- FUN FEATURES
by Kathryn Carlow
Special to The Herald
Whenever two-year-old Shotta Tyson of Cheshire spots a grapefruit or an apple, he heads for the miniature basketball hoop inside his home. If he sinks the shot, Shotta performs a victory dance. Even if he misses, he beams with excitement. To him, any round object becomes a ball and the chance to make another basket.
On February 12 of this year, Shotta once again took his shot, but this time, professional photographers with the Johnson & Johnson brand were there to capture the moment. As part of the company’s “Treasuring Everyday Joys” campaign, representatives had traveled across the country to visit with one family from each state and discover the unique ways babies can bring joy into their families’ lives.
Azria Rountree, Shotta’s eldest sister, initially learned about the campaign while browsing the Internet for her own audition opportunities.
“I came across this chance for my brother, and knew he would be perfect,” Rountree explains. “They were looking for a baby from Connecticut to feature in their book, and Shotta is just really special and different.”
Rountree contacted Johnson & Johnson and sent them information about her family, photographs of her brother, and a video of Shotta playing basketball. Over the next two months, Rountree spoke with company representatives over the phone and answered countless questions about her family. Finally, she received the call that they had been chosen to represent Connecticut in the book. “I thought it was so cool because out of the entire state, they chose us,” recalls Rountree.
The day of the visit, the Tysons opened their home to a make-up artist, two directors, and two photographers, including renowned photographer Michael Franzini. The crew filled the house with lighting and camera equipment, but the environment did not intimidate Shotta.
“He is definitely not shy and he has always loved taking pictures,” Rountree explains. “When Shotta was still really young, even before he could speak, if he saw a camera flash, he would smile. That’s why I knew he would be perfect for an opportunity like this.”
The visit lasted for over four hours.
Two weeks ago, the family had the chance to see the final result of the visit—the finished book filled with photographs of babies from across the country, including Shotta’s own spread.
“Seeing him in the book, that was definitely the best part of this whole opportunity. He just looks so happy. The pictures were great and it was so interesting to see how everything turned out,” gushes Rountree.
In addition to the photographs, the book described one unique joy for each baby. As for Shotta, his special quality was all about apples, grapefruits, and a basketball hoop.