Basketball manager with autism scores in final home game of season

PORTLAND, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Portland East Middle School student got the shot of his life last week.

As a manager for the Panthers, Anthony Brown is one of the basketball team’s biggest supporters.

“He’s their biggest cheerleader, their biggest cheerleader,” Coach Scott Steinbrecher told News 2.

For the final home game and eighth grade recognition night, Steinbrecher wanted Brown, who has autism, to play as part of the team.

Photo: WKRN
Photo: WKRN

“I rehearsed it a lot in my head how it would go. Never in a million years did I think it would go perfect,” Steinbrecher said to WKRN.

Their competition, Rucker-Stewart Middle, was on board for the plan as Brown suited up and started Thursday night.

“The jump ball play worked. We got it, he ran his play perfect and he caught it and he threw it in and it went in perfect,” Steinbrecher recalled.

The crowd erupted, not only with cheers, but tears.

“It’s without a doubt the most touching moment I’ve ever had,” said Steinbrecher, who has coached for 11 years.

The Panthers may have lost the game that night, but no one will ever remember the score.

“When they saw the game they were like, ‘Oh my gosh! Anthony made the first goal,’” Brown told News 2 with excitement.

That moment when two teams became one will also never be forgotten.

“They were proud of me. They were smiling at me,” Brown told News 2 with joy in his eyes.

This Thursday night Portland East plays in the county tournament.

Brown said if they lose that will be the end of their season. He got emotional saying that will break his heart.

*Basketball video courtesy: Portland East Coach Sloane Gilliland provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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