Behind Cornell University’s successful run to the Sweet 16 this week is the inspiration of a couple of young people with autism. And the team’s coach would have it no other way.

As the Cornell basketball team tore through Temple and Wisconsin and gets ready to face Kentucky, coach Steve Donahue has been getting coaching advice from an unexpected source — Jason McElwain, or J-Mac, who became a national sensation four years back when he scored 20 points during the last four minutes of his high school basketball game.

Donahue reached out to McElwain, who has autism, after seeing his remarkable story on television. Since Donahue has a son with Asperger’s syndrome and a brother with an intellectual disability, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

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McElwain watched the NCAA tournament selection show with the Cornell team this season and has been providing tips and inspiration for Donahue ever since. A recent text from McElwain read: “If you don’t dream to become a champion, you won’t become a champion.”

Donahue’s son Matt, 12, has also bonded with the players on his dad’s team, many of whom were previously unfamiliar with autism.

“I love that these guys have a chance to meet someone like that,” Donahue told The Washington Post. To read more click here. “They’re going to have to deal with some disabilities in their future families. If this helps them understand it, accept it, then as a teacher and a coach, I hope I helped them out.”

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