ROCKLIN (CBS13) — Cheers for a classmate, coming straight from the heart.
We hit the local schoolyard that comes alive when this young man hits the court.
It doesn’t get any sweeter than this, when a moment in sports turns into a life lesson on how to bring love in a very big way.
On any given court, on any given day, there’s an athlete taking flight.
But on this court, there’s an athlete who’s been given special wings.
“Xzander is an angel. He’s an angel in disguise,” says Special Education Teacher Tori Hayes.
When angels are born with imperfect wings, flying through the air on fast breaks may be difficult.
Xzander Caldwell was born with Autism Spectrum Disorder, a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others.
“When he first came to me, Xzander was really super quiet, he didn’t speak unless spoken to,” remembers Hayes. “Over the past two years, he has really blossomed in the area of communication.”
Six years ago Xzander’s big brother handed him a basketball, and since that day, his love for the game only grew.
When Xzander’s out on the court, he feels just like one of the guys.
“When you have kids that are on the autism spectrum one of the things you worry about the most is will they be able to make friends, says Xzander’s mom, Nicole Hill. “So, for me to see Xzander out here with these kids and they are all cheering him on and are excited to see him it’s the best feeling in the whole wide world because it makes him feel included.”
Come tip-off, Xzander isn’t sitting sideline. He takes flight, listening to his peers cheer, while making his opponents pay with his mean underhanded dagger.
“He prefers the granny. We’ve been teaching him overhand but whatever makes him happy. If he wants to granny he can granny it,” says mom Nicole.
This is Xzander’s last year at Spring View Middle School. He’ll be taking his angelic personality and contagious smile to Whitney High where the sky’s the limit for this special athlete.
“He’s taught me believe it or not to just let some things go. Because he comes in and he’s happy about everything no matter how his day went or how his weekend went,” says teacher Tori.
The Kings are Xzander’s favorite team.
His favorite player? Buddy Hield.
De’Aaron Fox comes in a tight second.