‘Joy of our team’ : Coach’s son with autism inspires Alabama basketball team

Kings off the court: Alabama men's basketball

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - He may not be on the official roster, but 9-year-old Kingston Pettway is the sixth man on the court who’s showing the Crimson Tide what winning is all about.

He’s not 6-feet-tall and hasn’t mastered the three-point shot yet like John Petty, but Kingston Pettway is confident in one thing, his coaching skills.

“He thinks he’s it, he’ll tell Petty I need you to shoot some threes, or and he’s in the crowd holding up three fingers telling Reese to shoot some threes,” said Kingston’s mom Kim Pettway.

Kim Pettway is married to Antoine Pettway, who’s been an assistant coach with the Crimson Tide since 2008. When Kingston was three, doctors diagnosed him with autism. Kim says while every Alabama team has embraced him, there’s just something special about this year’s group.

“I just know they love him. They treat him like he’s part of the team and it genuinely melts in my heart. One time Antoine left something at the coliseum, and he took Kingston with him and he called me and said hey, we’re going to be a little bit longer because Josh Primo is in there working out with Kingston,” Kim said.

Whether it’s celebrating wins or analyzing losses, Kingston is there helping the team understand there’s more to life than basketball.

“When you’re around him and somewhat having a bad day, you’re not having a bad day anymore because he’s happy and free and he brings joy and energy,” said Alabama head basketball coach Nate Oats.

“King is the joy of our team. After all the games we’re looking for him and for him to come in and give us that spark of energy. He is so, so special to this team and we love him so much,” said Alabama guard John Petty. “I’ve been around him for four years now and he’s family to me.”

While they never shied away from Kingston’s autism, Kim shared his story on social media this past week to show how this Alabama team is not only winning on the court, but also off the court, as well.

“To see my husband who, I’m sorry, who has a hard time talking about it, to see him coming home and saying you should have seen him, you should have seen the way the guys embraced him, it makes him really happy,” said Kim.

Kim Pettway says she wants people to learn two things from Kingston’s story: Being Kind doesn’t cost a thing and if some of the country’s most successful athletes can be kind when they think no one is watching, we can all do it too.

Alabama’s sixth man will be in Indianapolis cheering on the Tide in the Sweet 16 on Sunday.

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