All basketball games kids play are special, but something especially exciting happened during the Dec. 3 boys basketball game between Clayton Middle School and North Johnston Middle School.
Clayton Middle has a wonderful young man on their team who loves basketball, and happens to be autistic. His name is Kirby Roberson.
During the game, Roberson had the chance to play in the season's first game during the second quarter. Unfortunately, he did not score and got visibly discouraged because he often sets unrealistic expectations for himself.
Soon after the the end of the second quarter, with the help of Clayton Middle Athletic Director Stacey Carr and the team's manager, student Craig Hamer, Roberson was able to use several “self talk” strategies to help him process his feelings. The strategies worked, and Coach Misty Greene put him back in the game during the fourth quarter.
As the clock ticked down, Roberson was passed the ball. He missed his shot, however, this misfire led to a moment of generosity worth celebrating. After a few more missed shots by Clayton, North Johnston’s Camden Aycock rebounded the ball, and instead of driving up the court to his basket, he turned around and gave Roberson the ball, who shot it and scored.
“The crowd from both schools went crazy, and many fans in the stands were in tears,” said Carr.
“It was an amazing moment,” said Clayton Middle Principal Jocell Flores. “The parents, staff, and coaches at Clayton Middle School cannot thank Aycock enough. Clearly the North Johnston Middle staff, coaches, and families are doing a wonderful job educating their students.”
Even though the North Johnston team trailed in the game, Aycock said he felt the need to pass the ball to Roberson after hearing him say he wanted another opportunity to make a basket.
“I heard him say he just wanted one more shot at scoring,” said Aycock.
“Sometimes it feels that great moments like these will be few and far between, but Johnston County Schools has always made good sportsmanship the focus of the athletic programs,” said Carr. “Last night was a perfect example why athletics and the efforts of our public schools should be celebrated.”
“In the future, most will not remember the final score, but the small act of kindness we witnessed will forever leave a huge impact on all of our hearts,” Carr added.
“In light of everything going on in the world today, there truly are blessings in disguise everyday,” said Aycock’s mother Kelly.
The final score of the game was North Johnston Middle - 23, Clayton Middle 37.
PHOTO: North Johnston Middle School’s Camden Aycock (right) exemplifies sportsmanship as he passes the ball to Clayton Middle’s Kirby Roberson (#4-left) after a missed shot during the Dec. 3 game at Clayton Middle.