Knoxville (WVLT) - You may remember the story of Jason McElwain one year ago, an autistic boy who sparked national attention when he scored six three pointers at a basketball game. Something similar has happened right here in East Tennessee.
Mark packer has the story.
How many times do we see it in athletics? A player doing whatever he can to put himself in the limelight, the me--me--me mentality that consumes sport today. Then there's the story of John Rose, a young man who has always been about everyone else, but never himself. Tonight, we put John in the limelight. A Gibbs Eagle who is the epitome of a high school hero.
Eighteen-year-old John Rose isn't a player for the Gibbs Eagles. He's just the water boy.
"he's an awesome guy. I wish everyone could be that happy," teammate Austin Hill said.
John's job is simple. Make sure there's enough water for the players on the team and socialize with anyone he comes into contact with, always with a smile on his face.
"Just to see his face, it takes a lot of pressure off me because I put pressure on myself to win," Gibbs coach Rick Anderson said. "But with John, everything's happy. All the time, he makes it enjoyable. You just can't frown, all the stress is gone because you know he's having such a good time. You just try to go along with the flow."
Well, two weeks ago, the senior players for the Eagles went to Coach Anderson with a request: Let John suit out for one game.
"He's supported us, we thought he deserved it." senior Drew Conard said.
This time when John ran out during introductions, it was as a player, and the excitement was displayed all over his face.
"That was a dream come true," Rose said.
"It looked like it made his life," Conard said.
As it turned out, the Eagles had a big enough lead late against Midway for John to get into the game, and as Jason McElwain did in Rochester, New York last year making national news, John would do the same thing.
"It was a dream come true, being out there, playing basketball," Rose said.
It took John a while to get warmed up.
"The good Lord just brought it all together," Anderson said.
With the student body worked up into a lather, painted bodies and all.
"I have no idea how good he could have felt," Hill said.
John's dream really came true. Nothing but net.
"When I hit the first three pointer, they were hootin' and hollarin'. They started dancin'," Rose said.
And when the second three pointer went in?
"That was unbelievable. Amazing," Conard said.
"From our student body, it was unbelievable to see them jumping up and down, screaming, hollering and painted up for that kid. That was special for them," Anderson said.
"I thought I'd make one, I made two. It was hard to make them," Rose said.
One week later, the basketball team surprised John with something he'll cherish for the rest of his life: A Gibbs Eagle letter jacket. Minutes later, John was doing what he always does, making sure everyone on the team had what they needed, not thinking of himself, but on that cold winter night when John caught fire, the student body gave John something he'll never forget. Their love.
When John was told he was going to suit out for the game, his first response was if I'm playing, who's going to get the players their water? Always thinking of others before himself. Now that's a high school hero.