How This Autistic Teen Became a Basketball Star Overnight

Aired on 04/25/2006 | CC tv-pg
Jason McElwain's story sounds like it came from a Hollywood movie. Greece Athena in Rochester, New York, was a typical American high school with Jason, the 17-year-old basketball team manager, being a major exception. For a few years, Jason had been helping coach Jim Johnson and the team with whatever they needed: running drills, gathering balls, cheering the team on. Jason has autism. Yet as much as he loved helping his team, he desired to be playing on the court even more.

His dad never thought it would happen, until, to reward Jason for his hard work, coach Johnson let Jason suit up for his very last home game. Not to participate, really, but so he'd get a sense of what it's like to be on the team. In the final four minutes of the game, Jason's first two shots didn't go anywhere near the basket. But his third shot was just 20 feet from the hoop—not bad for a kid who struggled with autism his whole life and had never played a game of high school basketball. All in all, he sunk six three-pointers, one after another, turning Jason into an instant legend.