The Mary Kline Classic, an annual event organized and hosted by new Rivals.com and Yahoo! partner The Recruit Scoop editor Alex Kline, has emerged as a legitimate magnet for top-tier talent from throughout the prep hoops ranks. In the 2012 iteration of the event, all the star power on display couldn't compete with the real star of the event: A 9-year-old who got to score the final four points of the game and was carried off the court in celebration immediately afterwards.
As noted by Hoop Dreams Magazine -- and seen in detail thanks to video from ScoutsFocus above -- 9-year-old Kyle Ratner was the shocking star of the 2012 Mary Kline Classic, a star-studded event designed to raise funds for cancer research in honor of Mary Kline, the mother of Alex Kline.
Ratner was deemed a guest of honor because he lost his father to cancer during the winter. While it had been a fait accompli that Ratner, in a LeBron James jersey-style T-shirt, would get to step onto the court, there was no protocol for how the teen superstars would react to him.
What they did was truly heartwarming and memorable for more than just Ratner himself.
As soon as the elementary schooler was on the court, the future NCAA stars surrounded him and set him up for a drive on the hoop. Fed the ball, Ratner came in and sunk a running shot. Then, with time ticking down, Ratner was given the ball again with just enough time to shoot before the final buzzer. Fittingly, he sunk the hoop and was then given a victory ride off the court on the broad shoulders of future famous friends he never knew he had.
A perfect ending for a cancer fundraiser that raised more than $20,000 for cancer research, all organized by a teen who lost his mother to cancer.
"Alex had asked Kyle to sit on the bench with the players for that night, and he couldn't have been happier. When he was asked to go in the game in the final minute, he tried telling me from across the gym, but I had no idea what he was trying to say. When I saw what he meant, I was overwhelmed," Ratner's mother, Nancy Ratner, told Prep Rally. "His love of the game is second to none, and he definitely was not intimidated by the size of those boys on the court! He went out there and was one of them.
"And that's how they treated him. Both teams. He scored on a jump shot and then ran down the court on defense. Running back up the court, the other team passed him the ball. Not worrying about the score or their own numbers, all that mattered to every young man on that court was Kyle during that minute."
After the game, Ratner was still a bit starstruck, waffling on whether he had ever played against so many star players before. Yet he hardly hesitated in explaining why the game was important to him.
"It meant a lot [to play in the cancer fundraiser]," Ratner, who agreed that the game was one of the most enjoyable things he'd ever done, told ScoutsFocus. "People with cancer are really, really sick and people want to help."
Clearly, the Ratner family won't forget what everyone did for them and for cancer research anytime soon.
"[Kyle Ratner] was 8 when his father passed away," Nancy Ratner told Prep Rally. "It was more than just a basketball game to those boys. Kyle will forever remember how he was treated by them and how they made him feel. He was a rock star for one night ... and I have Alex and those amazing young men who also play some amazing basketball to thank!"