Autistic DeSoto Basketball Player Stars In Game

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DESOTO, MO. (KPLR) - People called it the best high school basketball game ever Tuesday night:  the girls JV game at DeSoto High School.

Brooke Kirby, 18, played in her first game for the DeSoto Dragons, though she`d been part of the team for years

It had been just another game on the schedule, yet by game time it had a once in a lifetime feel.
The cheerleaders were cheerier and the starting lineups brought down the house!

'#20, Brooke Kirby!!!!'  the announcer bellowed to wild cheers from the crowd.

Kirby, the team manager for 3 years, who has autism, was a starting guard.

Fans came with signs cheering her on and Kirby delivered, scoring the team`s first basket and two more.

'I was so happy.  I made a basket,' she beamed.

'If you don`t have somebody to have a shoulder to cry on or someone to share a moment with, then you don`t have a whole lot,' said her mother, Cara Kirby-House.

Her school, and team, arranged it all, to raise autism awareness and to benefit the charity Autism Speaks.

Mostly it was payback for Brooke; who they called missing puzzle piece.

The crowd was full of people wearing T-Shirts with Brooke`s name spelled out on puzzle pieces.

On the back, the shirts read, 'What`s up Toots?'

Brooke calls just about everyone 'Toots'.

'It`s great; everybody cheering my name.  `Hey Toots`.. Toots,' she said, smiling, pointing and snapping her finger all at once

'I definitely look up to Brooke.  She`s a big inspiration to us and the whole team,' said friend and teammate, Kelsey Kingsland.

'You could be having a real rough game, a real rough practice, she`ll come up and give you a hug.  It just puts things in perspective a lot,' said coach, Kim Kinsgland.

'I`m really proud of her.  She`s come a long way.  I thought she was going to get made fun of.  They treat her like a normal person here.  That`s what`s great about this school.  They accept her,' said Brooke`s brother, Brendan, a 9th grader.  'She does have a good shot.  I`m going to hear about it for a while,' he laughed.

Brooke wore #20 because it's her favorite player's number; that favorite player is Kelsey Kingsland, who gave Brooke her jersey for the game.  Kelsey wore #45.

DeSoto beat Fredericktown 42-28, but everyone in the building felt like a winner - especially Brooke.

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De Soto High School Basketball Team Raises Autism Awareness

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