True sportsmanship displayed at Bedford playoff basketball game

Opposing team gets ball to player with autism, who scores first basket of season

By Alison Wickline - Reporter, Jenna Zibton - Anchor

BEDFORD, Va. - A true show of sportsmanship was on display in Bedford County Monday night on the basketball court.

The Bedford Rockets, seen in the video wearing black jerseys, were playing the Montvale Sharks.

The Rockets were winning and tried to pass the ball to No. 15, David Johnson, to get him to score.

David has autism and is very high functioning, according to his mother, Janell Johnson.

David had not scored all season and this was a playoff game.

His mom says the Rockets were pretty far ahead going into the last couple minutes of the game and the coach told his teammates to get the ball to him so he could score.

The other team noticed what was happening and during the last minute of the game, Austin, a player from the other team, kept giving David the ball so he could score.

Each time a shot went up, someone rebounded it and then passed it back to David.

After six tries, he scored on the seventh.

"I felt really proud of myself to make that shot," said David Johnson. 

"I saw that his teammates kept trying to give him the ball and God told me something, that I should do something there," said Austin St. Clair, a player on the Montvale Sharks.

"There wasn't a dry eye in the building last night. It was very touching," said Joani Stclair, Austin's mom.

For David's family, the show of support was amazing to witness. They've spent many years watching David find his way on the court. Each game, they sit in the stands and hope above all, David is having fun. Monday night was more than they could have imagined.

"It really renews your faith in mankind, especially for them to be 13-and 14-year-old boys. For them to be that caring and that selfless was really heartwarming," said Janell Johnson, David's mom. 

"It was a wonderful example of sportsmanship and teamwork," said Janell Johnson. "He was excited. He had a good game overall. He got a rebound and got the ball once and dribbled it down the court which never happens."

A day later and the Bedford Rockets are back to work. David is ready for another big game with a couple goals in mind. 

"I'm hoping to try my best and that we can score big," said David.

David has played in the recreational basketball league since third grade and is now in ninth grade.

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