Senior basketball manager with autism starts in his first high school game

OLATHE, Kan. - The Friday night rivalry between Olathe Northwest and Olathe South is not about winning.

"It’s about someone's heart. It's about someone's spirit and I think that's a very special, special thing," Olathe Northwest Coach Mike Grove said.

Olathe Northwest senior Mason Andrade is that special ingredient for the Ravens’ basketball team. He was diagnosed with autism at a young age and has been the team’s manager for the last three years.

"I get basketballs out, get water, water bottles, everything," Mason said.

Ten days ago, Mason found out he wouldn’t be doing his normal job on game day.

"Coach Grove started talking to him about it and he said, ‘I'm going to suit up, Mom,’” Mason’s mother Jodi Andrade said.

On senior night, Coach Grove wanted Mason to suit up and take the first shot of the game.

"He deserves to go out and run out in front of the crowd. I think he deserves to go out there and be part of the game just like anyone else," Grove said.

In jersey 22, Mason practiced for his Friday night debut. Practicing shots before the game, the excitement was building for both teams as the star player got ready for his 30 seconds of fame.

A cell phone video caught the jump shot; although the basketball didn’t go through the hoop, the experience and love from his Olathe Northwest family gave Mason the memory of a lifetime.

"You know, they told us they really didn't know how far he would go. So to see how far he's come, it's pretty amazing," Jodi said. 

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