Teen Basketball Hero Still in the Game

If you want your French loaf sliced by a legend, come to Wegman's grocery in Rochester, N.Y. This is where CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman found Jason McElwain.

Four years ago Jason was the basketball manager at Greece Athena High school. As you may remember, because he's autistic, he supposedly couldn't play - supposedly.

With four minutes to go in the last game of the season, Coach Jim Johnson put Jason in the game.

Behind the Scenes with J-Mac

"Fans were going wild and I hit the first shot. Then I hit the second shot. Then I hit the third shot. And the fourth shot," Jason remembers. "When I hit the last one with about 3 seconds to go, it was like we won a national championship."

Jason scored 20 points in 4 minutes.

"It was one of the best nights of my life, that changed everything," Jason says.

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It seems that everyone saw that game, including then-President George W. Bush.

"A country was captivated by an amazing story on the basketball court," President Bush said.

Oprah did a show. Magic bought the movie rights. And J-Mac hit the speaking circuit.

Blog: Jason "J-Mac" McElwain, The CBS Backstory

Today he still likes telling his story, but not as much as he likes pursuing his latest passion: coaching.

"I was trying to give back to the sport I've loved ever since I came out of my mother's womb," Jason said.

Three years ago, Jason returned to his alma mater to volunteer as the assistant junior varsity coach.

Head coach Mike Setzer says he's good. "He'll suggest defenses. He'll suggest plays to run."

So good in fact, Jason could probably do the coach's job.

"He does get very emotional though," Setzer said. "So I would worry about the amount of technical's he might get."

Jason admits to being an intense coach. He really does have the bad-play-bellyache down pat. And even though this is only his third season - Jason has clearly mastered the coach's art of overstatement.

"This is the best group of young men that I've ever had," Jason said in the locker room.

By all accounts, Jason is much more self-confident than he was four years ago. That game really did change him. Although Jason says it wasn't making the shots that made the difference -- he says it was the support and acceptance he felt that night that made him the man he is today.

"The way my senior class, up in the stands that night, cheered for me and picked me up on their shoulders like we won a national championship…they were awesome," Jason said.

"I've often said if the whole world could just be the way that gym was that night," Hartman says.

"The world would be a better place," Jason replies.

"It'd be a perfect place," Hartman says.

Jason's dream now is to coach college basketball. It's a long shot, but, of course, Jason has made those before.



  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.

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