Dream comes true for special needs student-athlete in Hillsborough County

DOVER, Fla. - Kevin Garcia, an 18-year-old special needs student at Strawberry Crest High School, always dreamed of playing for the varsity boys' basketball team.  He has put in two years on the junior varsity squad.

"He's improved over the two years that he has been here," said varsity head coach Andre Lewis.

When Lewis noticed that Garcia was technically a senior this year, he decided to give the point guard a senior night he wouldn't soon forget.  Lewis asked varsity player Isaiah Channer, who was also Kevin's teammate on junior varsity, if he would sit out the game and let Garcia play in his place. Channer obliged.  He said it was not a tough decision.

"Kevin was always telling us that he was going to be on varsity," Channer said.

With a comfortable lead against their opponent, Spoto High School, Lewis put Garcia in with just minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Garcia put up five three-point attempts.  He missed each time.

"Our hearts just, like, dropped when we saw the shot go up, and it was so close to going in every time," Channer said.

With the clock winding down, Lewis called a time out, and his staff informed the Spoto coaches that they were going to give the ball to Kevin, hoping that he would be fouled.  Since the game was in double bonus, even a foul on the floor would mean free throw attempts for Kevin.

On the next play, Spoto fouled Kevin, and he made his way to the line.

He sunk two out of three shots.

"I feel happy because I made my two shots," Garcia said.

Garcia was so elated, after the final whistle, he started break-dancing on the basketball court.

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