As an autistic teenager, Jason McElwain was used to being “special.” But on Feb. 15, the 18-year-old redefined what special really means.

That day, Jason took his usual spot at the end of the bench as manager of the Grace Athena High School basketball team outside Rochester, N.Y. But instead of a manager’s white shirt and black tie, Jason wore a team uniform.

Wanting to repay Jason’s three years of dedication to the team, coach Jim Johnson had Jason suit up, but with no guarantee he would play. Then, with his Trojans way ahead in the last period, Johnson gave Jason his chance.

And he ran with it. In the last four minutes of the game, Jason--known as “J-Mac” to players and friends--hit six 3-point shots and scored 20 points for a school record. When the buzzer sounded, the crowd rushed the court as Jason was lifted onto the players’ shoulders and carried in triumph around the gym.

Thanks to a student video of the game widely viewed on YouTube, Jason was soon fielding calls from reporters around the world. He met President George W. Bush, who became tearful as the teenager shook his hand. Columbia Pictures bought the rights to his story, and Magic Johnson is producing a movie about his life.  

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