Johnston County

At middle school game, a display of sportsmanship

Something special happened during the Dec. 3 boys’ basketball game between Clayton and North Johnston middle schools.

The Clayton Middle team has a young man, Kirby Roberson, who loves basketball and happens to be autistic.

During the game against North Johnston, the team’s first, Roberson had the chance to play in the second quarter. He did not score and got visibly discouraged.

With the help of Clayton Middle athletic director Stacey Carr and the team’s manager, student Craig Hamer, Roberson was able to use several “self-talk” strategies to help him process his feelings. The strategies worked, and Coach Misty Greene put him back in the game during the fourth quarter.

As the clock ticked down, Roberson received the ball on a pass. He missed his shot; however, this misfire led to a moment of generosity worth celebrating. After a few more missed shots by Clayton, North Johnston’s Camden Aycock rebounded the ball, and instead of driving up the court to his basket, he turned around and gave Roberson the ball, who shot and scored.

“The crowd from both schools went crazy, and many fans in the stands were in tears,” Carr said.

“It was an amazing moment,” said Clayton Middle Principal Jocell Flores. “The parents, staff and coaches at Clayton Middle School cannot thank Aycock enough. Clearly, the North Johnston Middle staff, coaches and families are doing a wonderful job educating their students.”

Even though the North Johnston team trailed in the game, Aycock said he felt the need to pass the ball to Roberson after hearing him say he wanted another opportunity to make a basket.

“I heard him say he just wanted one more shot at scoring,” Aycock said.

“Sometimes it feels that great moments like these will be few and far between, but Johnston County Schools has always made good sportsmanship the focus of the athletic programs,” Carr said. “Last night was a perfect example why athletics and the efforts of our public schools should be celebrated.”

“In the future, most will not remember the final score, but the small act of kindness we witnessed will forever leave a huge impact on all of our hearts,” Carr added.

“In light of everything going on in the world today, there truly are blessings in disguise everyday,” said Aycock’s mother, Kelly.

This 30-second video captures the moment: