CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) – In just one shot a local teen grabbed everyone’s attention.
"I was blown away not because he hit the shot but because he had the opportunity to do something amazing," said Midnight Basketball Coach, Pastor Willie.
The seventh-grade basketball player doesn’t let anything stand in his way for his love of the game.
"This kid loves basketball I could not believe it man this kid was shooting from the NBA three and half court, and I’m going is this kid serious," said Pastor Willie.
But it’s the kid behind the bucket that will pull at your heartstrings.
His name is JoJo Hayes and he’s a seventh grader who plays basketball every single day with no legs.
He’s been doing what he has to do since the age of one, when he lost his legs to meningitis.
JoJo is from the south side of Chamaign, and like many of his peers who grew up in that area come from humble beginnings.
Local pastor Willie Comer decided to create Midnight Basketball, so kids like JoJo can have a safe place to play basketball on Friday nights. The program was started through the East Illinois Central Youth for Christ Organizing.
“This a place where kids can come and have a great time.” “These kids aren’t worried about if they are going to get shot or if there are fights,” said Willie.
The program isn’t just about basketball. Before they play any games, they start every gathering with a prayer and a faith-based message.
“Basketball is simply a bait on a fishing hook. So, we bait the hook so we can get a message in their heart. It’s a whole holistic piece to get them from point A to point B,” said Willie.
Willie said getting them from point A to B is the most important part because he knows the importance of what a positive program can have on these young people.
“It could have been me. Every time I look at one of these kids, I think man it could have been me. All these kids have an option.
For more information on Midnight Basketball, click here.