On the Road: El Pasoan gets scholarship after memorable pass to player with special needs

Coronado High School coach with Coronado player Mitchell Marcus and Franklin High School player Jonathan Montanez.(CBS News)

At Coronado High School, Coach Peter Morales made no qualms about it. Back in 2013, he had a favorite on this team.

“Mitchell, I need you to help me out with coaching,” Morales said.

Then team manager, Mitchell Marcus, has a developmental disability – but he surpassed everyone here when it came to love of the game.

“He’s just an amazing person that our basketball team loves being around,” Morales said.

This is an update to a previous story but in case you missed the original, it all began 5 years ago, during the last game of the regular season, when Coach Morales told his manager to suit up.

Just wearing a jersey was enough for Mitchell but what he didn’t know was that the coach planned to play him at the end - no matter what the score.

And so with a minute and half left Coronado leading, but only by 10 coach Morales put in his manager.

“And I just started hearing, “Mitchell, Mitchell.”

But here’s where the fairytale fell apart. Although his teammates did everything they could to get Mitchell a basket, each time they passed him the ball he either missed the shot, or like on their last possession booted it out of bound, turning the ball over to the other team with just seconds left.

“He wasn’t going to be able to score, but I was hoping he was happy to just be put in the game,” Morales said.

Morales said he couldn’t have imagined what would happen next.

What happened next happened on the inbound. The guy with the ball there was a senior at Franklin High School. No. 22 - Jonathan Montanez.

“I was raised to treat others like you want to be treated. I just thought Mitchell deserved his chance, deserved his opportunity,” Jonathan said.

What Montanez did was yell out Mitchell’s name, then threw the ball right to him. Right there, one of the most memorable giveaways of all time.

And the crowd cheered.

After this story first aired, Jonathan and Mitchel became friends. They got awards. The most significant went to Jonathan and it came from an official at Texas Tech University, who saw the story and offered Jonathan a scholarship. Almost certainly the only scholarship ever awarded for a turnover.

Jonathan will graduate this summer with a degree in physical therapy and our award for outstanding sportsmanship.

Steve Hartman, on the road, in El Paso, Texas.

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