GLENDALE, Ariz. – Manager and special-needs student Jose Meraz is an invaluable member of the Deer Valley High School basketball program, responsible for keeping the Skyhawks hydrated.
To reward Jose’s season of hard work, the coaching staff let their star manager find some time on the court.
"Late into the fourth quarter, we decided to put Jose into the game," said coach Jed Dunn. "The crowd sort of sensed it and started chanting ‘Jose! Jose! Jose!"
Time started running out though, and the manger-turned-shooting-guard had yet to get his hands on the ball. So the coach for Barry Goldwater High School did something completely unselfish.
"I called a timeout, understanding that I didn’t have any timeouts," said coach Jesus Flores.
Flores called a timeout that he didn’t have, Dunn said, resulting in two technical free throws for Jose. Both free throws were close, but they did not go in.
Jose remained in the game, but he needed help again for another chance at scoring. The players from Goldwater immediately turned the ball over so Jose could have one more shot before the game ended.
On the final possession, one teammate passed Jose the ball. He fumbled a little, but took the three-point shot, knocking it down just as time expired.
"When he made that shot, I just backed up and let him take it," said Mike Bravo, a member of the Goldwater team. “And I knew when that ball left his hands, it was going in. I could not be happier for him."
The crowd erupted after the score, and the Deer Valley team swarmed Jose.
"When we were shaking hands, I had Jose on my back, and we all just rushed him," said teammate Rees Plummer. “It was just so blissful, what we did for him and what he did for us."
The game was over, but there was still work to be done. Students went to Twitter to make a Youtube video of the shot trend. The players’ social media outcry put Jose’s play on ESPN’s Top Ten.
Deer Valley won the game by 40, but the final three points changed the lives of everyone on the court.
"All my teachers and my friends said…you’re famous now," Jose said.