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A Basketball Player With Down Syndrome Defies the Odds in This Viral Video

February 10th 2016

By:
Taylor Bell

On Friday a student in Nashville, Tennessee hit the winning shot for his high school basketball team. But surprisingly, what had everyone talking wasn't the win, but the young boy with Down syndrome who was behind it, ABC 7 reports.

Robert Lewis, a student with Down syndrome, got to suit up for his basketball team at Franklin Road Academy during a game against the University School of Nashville on their Senior Night. The video of Robert has more than 33,000 views on YouTube and was originally posted by user Jeffrey Malkofsky-Berger.

Robert and Matthew Lewis

Down syndrome affects 1 in 691 babies, and at least 400,000 people living in the U.S. People with the condition suffer from a variety of birth defects that can lead to a decline in thinking ability, attention problems, obsessive compulsive behaviors, tantrums and delayed language development. Not to mention, those with Down syndrome have an increased risk of hearing and vision problems, two things that must be refined on the court.

Amazingly, Robert exceeded all expectations. Robert, who also serves as the team's manager, was put in the game with 90 seconds to go.

Robert Lewis

As Robert stepped out onto the court, fans cheered and his young brother Matthew came out to guard him. Matthew, who plays for the other team gave his brother room and encouraged him to shoot.

Franklin Road Academy had a comfortable lead when Robert entered the game and was in prime position to win.

Although Robert missed his first three-point attempt, he got a second chance. To encourage him, fans chanted, "Robbie, Robert! Robbie, Robert!" And with that, something amazing happened.

With five seconds on the clock, 19-year-old Robert sunk a three-pointer to win the game.

“He put me in," Robert told ABC affiliate News 2. "I was in the right-hand corner for the three. When I had that ball, when I shot it, I know that was going in, and when I made the shot, all I can hear is everybody going nuts.”

Robert Lewis holding a basketball

The crowd erupted. Players from both teams rushed to congratulate him and students rushed the court.

"The thought that he was going to make a shot honestly never crossed my mind," Franklin Road Academy coach John Pierce told Fox Sports. "I was really proud of our guys for getting the ball to him and letting him get a couple shots, and the way it all happened -- I would have never imagined that it would happen like that. But the way it came together and the crowd came onto the court, it was a really special night."

"There was a lot of love in that gym--from both sides," mother of Robert and Matthew, Judy Lewis told Style Blueprint.

As the team's manager, Robert doesn't normally make an appearance on the court. But it has been a tradition for Franklin Road's coaches to occasionally put senior managers into the game, according to FOX Sports.

"If we're ahead comfortably or behind and kind of out of the game, we'll put those guys in at the end of the game, and we've had some good moments with those guys over the last 10 years," Franklin Road Academy coach John Pierce told FOX Sports. "But we've never had anything close to what happened Friday night."

Tuesday the team returns to the court to for its final regular season game but this time Robert — as he has done so many times before during the last four years — will be sitting on the beach ready to serve his time in any way possible.

You can catch the big moment from Jeffrey Malkofsky-Berger, who gave ATTN: permission via email to post the video in full: