ARVADA, Colo.— Last weekend a basketball shot at Pomona High School went viral, after 16-year-old Kevin Bruno who has Down syndrome made his first basket of the season against their rival Ralston Valley.
However, Bruno's story goes beyond the viral video.
Once Denver7 Sports Anchor Alison Mastrangelo started talking to people at the school, she discovered Kevin’s inspiring story has touched every player on the Panthers basketball roster.
A Friday night basketball game in Arvada turned into a moment that every student, parent, and player in the Pomona high school gym will always remember. With the clock winding down, Kevin Bruno was told to suit up as he was going in the game.
“He was nervous before it, we gave him a jersey and he put it on and tucked it in. I said 'are you ready bud?' He looked at me and said 'Phew, okay, I am ready,'” Ryan Marquez, senior at Pomona High School said.
Bruno went in the game with cheers slowly building from the stands. His nerves seemed to disappear as he dribbled down the court with teammates on either side, scoring his first two points of the year.
“It was one of the best moments of my life,” Trevor Baskin, sophomore at Pomona High School said.
“It was so amazing it was his first try and there was just this rush that kind of consumed me and I started jumping up and down, we picked him up and the crowd came and started picking him up. It was the most special thing I’ve been a part of. It was unreal,” Marquez said.
“When he scored the basket, it couldn't have ended any better really, it was one of those great things we got to be a part of - [it was] great for the kids,” Jon Baskin, Panthers Head Basketball Coach said.
Bruno said he didn't know he was going to make the basket.
It was a “surprise,” Bruno, the sophomore at Pomona high school, said.
But it made him feel good when the ball crossed the orange rim and sank threw the net.
“I was very happy," he said.
When he scored, it didn't matter that the Panthers already had the lead. Kevin’s shot touched every heart and soul in that gym. Sparking an emotion from the crowd that made it feel more like the Panthers had just won a state championship title instead of a regular season game.
“Why does it make me happy? Because I get to shoot hoops,” Bruno said.
Bruno might not be the biggest or the tallest player on the team. What he gives to the panthers every day is his positive attitude, his smile, and happy spirit to motivate those around him.
“I like basketball with my buddies,” Bruno told Mastrangelo.
“He brings an energy that no one else can bring. Every time he is around he brightens up the mood, he gets everyone happier, he gets them ready for the game, sometimes he gives us speeches at halftime, he does what he can to help,” Trevor said.
“He comes in here and gets to play basketball with us and plays on the unified team. I mean that’s great, but it’s all about the inclusive part and him getting to be able to participate. These guys learn just as much from his as he does from them,” Baskin said.
“He is just fun to be around, he’s never down, he’s never sad, he makes every one’s day brighter, and you can’t not love that kid, he’s exactly the definition of what you want to be,” Marquez said.
Coach Baskin says he hopes to get Bruno back in another game in the future, he just doesn't know when that will be.
In the meantime, Bruno will continue to hang out with his friends, sharing his Panther pride, while doing one of his favorite things.
“I get to watch basketball and shoot hoops,” Bruno said.