ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Determination paid off for a Meadowlawn Middle School student with Down syndrome, who got to take the court during the basketball team's last game.
Zachary Owen, 12, has been the Meadowlawn Lancers' water boy for two years and his dad, Greg has always hoped to see his son get to play with the team one day.
"We of course always hoped that he'd get put in the game eventually, but we had no expectations that would happen," said Greg Owen.
During the Lancers' last game of the season last week, Coach Mark Bryant called Zach's name.
"The crowd went nuts. Cheerleaders were cheering his name and it was just a lot of fun just to see him go in the game," Greg said.
What happened next was a display of sportsmanship at its finest. Players on both teams cheered Zach on as he sunk four baskets.
"It was kind of spur-of-the-moment," Bryant told FOX 13. "He shows the guys that if you play hard, if you do what you're supposed to do, good things can happen."
Greg said the moment was so exciting for him to witness.
"One of the proudest moments I've ever had, for sure," he said. "He wants to be included. It's all about being included. And he wants to show everybody that he can shoot, too!"
The excitement surrounding Zach didn't end after the final buzzer. The Lancers' opponents, Bay Point Middle School surprised him with a pep rally this week and gave him a basketball signed by the whole team.
Meanwhile, Zach has clearly won the hearts of his classmates; during his impromptu shoot-around for FOX 13, a dozens of his classmates in gym class started giving him rounds of applause after every successful attempt.
Greg, however, said he's not about to start taking it easy on his son.
"He's got a lot of things to work on. But you know what? We're going to work on those things and he's going to practice just like everybody else," he said.
What's next for Zach? He hopes to get back on the court during a game next season.