Published January 13, 2015
Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul treated two basketball-loving Texas teenagers to an NBA game after a video of one boy's generosity to a special needs player on the opposing team went viral.
Mitchell Marcus, a senior at Coronado High in El Paso, Texas, and Jonathon Montanez, a senior at Franklin High, sat courtside at Sunday's game against Oklahoma City as guests of Paul. Accompanying them was Coronado coach Peter Morales, along with the boys' families, and Scooter Braun, who manages pop sensation Justin Bieber.
"It was a gesture out of the heart," Morales said. "We never expected all this."
Braun alerted his friend Paul about the video from the Feb. 12 game between the two schools. Marcus, a special needs student and an avid basketball fan, has been team manager of the Coronado Thunderbirds for three years. Morales gave Marcus a chance to play with 90 seconds left in the last game of the season.
Marcus missed his first shot and the ball went out of bounds, giving Franklin High possession. Trailing by 10 points, Montanez tossed Marcus the ball with 13 seconds left. Marcus scored, the crowd went wild and a video of Marcus' basket went viral.
Paul, who has two young children of his own, was moved by the video and story behind it, so he extended an invitation to Los Angeles via Braun. After the game, Paul met the boys and gave them signed jerseys and posed for photos. Paul's teammates and fellow fathers Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Grant Hill joined in.
"I was very happy," Marcus said at halftime of his reaction to the invitation. "Amazing, it's my dream."
Montanez said he passed Marcus the ball in a spur of the moment decision.
"He deserved his chance," he said.
Morales said the teens were scheduled to attend a taping of Ellen DeGeneres' talk show on Monday before returning to Texas.