Opposing teams come together to make dreams come true for student with special needs

Posted at 6:18 PM, Dec 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-20 18:18:34-05

RIVER ROUGE, Mich. (WXYZ) — C.J. Franklin knows his passion. Since middle school the teen with autism has been a team manager cheering on his school basketball team.

“I always loved basketball, ever since I was a baby,” said Franklin.

He likes being manager of the River Rouge High Varsity Basketball Team, but he wanted more.

“He’s always working out, saying I got to get ready for the season,” said his dad Chester Franklin. “He said I am going to be on the basketball team. CJ you know you are going to be a part of the team. No. I am on the team.”

“He said coach. I don’t want to be a manager any more. I am a player,” said Coach LaMonta Stone.

So, on Tuesday, when River Rouge High School got ahead. Coach Lamonta Stone gave him his chance.

St Frances Cabrini High School had the ball. They were supposed to inbound to their own player, but Cabrini player Nick Ballas saw CJ. Even though his team was losing he passed the ball to his opponent CJ and told him to take a shot.

“He missed the first one. You see Nick, everyone telling him you can do it you can do it. He makes the bucket,” said Chester Franklin. “It’s just a dream come true for him.

“I was jumping. It was so crazy. Everybody cheering,” describes Nick.

“I said oh my gosh, that was the best moment,” said CJ.

As CJ made a basket both Cabrini and River Rouge High School fans found themselves cheering together, for the same thing.

“It tells me we are going in the right direction. That we are teaching the kids the right way to do things,” said Steve Dolunt, Athletic Director at Cabrini High.

“Winning isn’t everything, even when you are down by a lot. The victory is in how you feel at the end,” said Nick.