LINDEN (WJRT) - (02/03/17) - A young man living with autism has been able to make his sports dream come true with the help of his mom, teacher, coach and teammates.
The Linden High School sophomore made four baskets in a game against Kearsley High School on Jan. 31. The moment was caught on video and watched by more than 25,000 people on Facebook.
Sixteen-year-old Johnny Irwin remembered the moment fondly.
"They had to make sure they keep the ball. They were dribbling it with their hands and trying to shoot it in the basket," he said.
Johnny's mom, Tania, didn't want that to hold him back from his love of sports. With the help of his teacher Dawn Yankley, and Coach Rob Rossow, Johnny has become a valuable part of the team.
"He's very energetic. He's a very outgoing guy. He's the best guy. He's our assistant coach and we really love him...his pep talks," said friend and teammate, Luke Kenney.
Johnny has grown up with a lot of the junior varsity team and feels quite comfortable giving motivational speeches.
"I had never really been around autistic kids at all, so I thought it would be a good learning experience for me," Rossow said. "I thought it be great for my boys. So, just to learn to get along with everybody kind of thing, but they already knew Johnny. They all love Johnny already."
Rossow says that next year Johnny is welcome to come back if he wants to.
He says the game that went viral wouldn't have been possible without the cooperation of the Kearsley team and the referees.