CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A soccer showdown between rivals has an impact on overall record, on the standings and a run at a state title. But a local high school game Monday night had an impact on a young man and his family that goes far beyond the box score.
It's Senior Night at Providence High School and Kym Johnson is a nervous wreck.
"You gonna hold my hand?" she asks her son.
Her son Darius, #3, is autistic and he's been the boy's soccer team manager for the last four years.
"Very proud of him, very proud of how far he's come," Johnson said. "He's just amazing."
On the sidelines, he's the ultimate cheerleader, and the team loves him as much as he loves them.
"In a world where people get made fun of a lot for being different, they've never done that," Johnson said. "He's always just been one of the guys."
Before the start of Monday night's game against South Meck, the players bought Darius brand new blue cleats and surprised him with some news he'd never gotten before.
"My heart fell out of my chest," Darius said. "I turned completely pale. I couldn't believe it."
Darius was getting in the game-- and in the starting lineup.
"I ran around telling everyone he was possibly going to play tonight," Johnson said.
After one big kick, he was subbed out of the game. Full of emotion, with the widest of smiles.
"He is going to talk about this forever," Johnson said. "Forever."
The game continued on, but the MVP on this night was already obvious.
"That meant more to him than people will ever know," Johnson said. "And it meant a lot to me, too."
As much as this team has become his family, Darius says he owes this moment to the woman who raised him.
"Hey, mom: I wanted to dedicate that kick today just for you!" Darius said. "Love you so much!"
Providence won the game, 1-0.
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