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NEWPORT NEWS -- A game of one-on-one is a pretty common thing for 15-year-old Alex Skrinjorich. Often, you'll find him facing off with his father, Don, in front of their home in Menchville.

'I didn't grow up a basketball fan. I liked football and baseball, more so, and hockey, but basketball, no,' explained Don Skrinjorich. 'Alex loves basketball, so we play basketball.'

His favorite team: The Miami Heat.

His favorite player: LeBron James.

The sport Alex enjoys playing and watching is more than a game.

For Alex, who has Pervasive Developmental Disorder -- which has many of the symptoms of Autism -- basketball has been a great way to connect with family and with many other people, including students at Gildersleeve Middle School.

'When I see Alex, I just feel love,' said his mother Lynne. 'I just see him, and just see love, and how special he is.'

The school basketball team of which Alex has been part for the last 2 years saw the same and felt the same. Its coach wanted to make sure he and the teammates showed him how special he was before Alex graduated from Gildersleeve and moved on to Menchville High School in the fall.

For the final game of the season, Alex's coach approached the coach of Hines Middle School's basketball team and arranged for Alex to play in the last minutes of the game.

'You have both teams just standing up and cheering for him,' recalled Lynne Skrinjorich. 'You want to cry, but yet your heart is bursting with joy at the same time.'

She added, 'It's just seeing those kids, his teammates, and how much they just accept him and they want him to succeed, and that is what amazed me the most.'

Although the regular season ended, Alex is gearing up for the annual game that pits Gildersleeve faculty members against students. It takes place next week.

'My team is good,' said Alex, whom doctors thought early in his life might never talk or walk.

'Special needs -- they're, I mean, there are some neat kids, and people need to stop and take the time to stop and realize that they're pretty neat,' Lynne Skrinjorich said.

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