Prep Rally

Heartwarming assist from foe lands El Paso special needs student final basket in undefeated season

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

It looked like Mitchell Marcus’ miraculous appearance in the only game of his high school basketball career was going to come up short. Instead, he got an assist from an opponent and hit a basket that sent the El Paso (Tex.) Coronado High gym into celebratory hysterics, all thrilled that one of their school’s favorite sons had made the most of a truly unique opportunity.

As reported by the El Paso Times (as brought to Prep Rally's attention by The Big Lead), Mitchell Marcus is a special needs senior at Coronado High, where he also serves as the team manager for the boys basketball squad. For the team’s final game of the regular season, a rivalry matchup against El Paso (Texas) Franklin High, Coronado allowed Marcus to suit up with the team.

With 1:30 remaining in a game which Coronado led by 10 points, the T-Birds brought Marcus in off the bench. The senior, wearing Kobe Bryant’s number 24, was given a handful of opportunities to shoot, with Coronado desperate to get him a basket so he would be on the official stat sheet.

He missed all his attempts, leaving just 13 seconds remaining and Franklin all but certain to dribble out the rest of the clock.

Instead, a Franklin player delivered the most heart-warming assist in El Paso high school basketball history. Franklin guard Jon Montanez grabbed a rebound and passed the ball right to Marcus. With the Coronado senior seemingly surprised to have received the ball from a foe, Montanez delivered the perfect line to assure Marcus and set the stage for the kind of moment that sends chills down one’s spine.

“Shoot it,” Montanez told Marcus. “It’s your time.

Marcus put up a final shot. It went in, the final points of a 55-40 victory and a perfect regular season record.

"Tears immediately came to my eyes, and it was just pure emotion," Clement Marcus, Marcus’ father, told the Times. "I'll take it to my grave. It was a community coming together. Forget the high school rivalry."

While Marcus’ parents were shedding tears of joy, their son was being carried off the court by Coronado fans, a fitting tribute to a student who has spent hours upon hours supporting the boys basketball team for four years.

Meanwhile, Franklin players looked on, their disappointment at losing to a crosstown rival mitigated by the sheer joy that came from his final basket and the role that a Franklin student athlete had played in it.

"I was just proud for him, that he actually got to play and get his first varsity basket,” Montanez told the Times.

Marcus’ mother was even more emphatic.

"To see the Franklin players do that for him was just, well, there are no words for it," Amy Marcus said. "It was the most amazing moment of my life."

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