PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Eight-year-old Evan Murphy trusts the process.
Whenever the Sixers play, you can usually find the little boy with Down syndrome staring intently at the TV.
Then, the little boy with Down syndrome met his hero, Joel Embiid, during a chance meeting at a Delaware County church.
He thought that would be the final interaction.
But Monday night, he didn’t have to watch the Eastern Conference finals through a screen. He was on the court, honored as the Sixers Strong Kid of the Game.
The initiative highlights kids who have persevered through challenging circumstances.
“We just think of him as just Evan and sometimes we forget that he does work really hard to be the amazing kid that he is,” said Evan’s mom, Kristen Murphy.
The Sixers organized the VIP experience, including an arena tour, for the Murphy family after watching Eyewitness News’ first story on Evan. The piece highlighted his chance meeting with his hero Joel Embiid at a Delaware County church.
“Just meeting [Joel] was enough; for all of this to happen is a dream come true for him,” his mother said.
Before the match-up against the Celtics, the team presented him with his very own Sixers jersey with the name “Murphy” on it.
“I miss you, I want to practice and I’m gonna have a great time,” Evan said in a message to Embiid.
The experience has taught this family that the tagline ‘Phila Unite’ isn’t just about a city rallying around its basketball team.
“This is a memory he’ll have forever,” Murphy said.
It’s about a hometown team that celebrates its community.
“The fact that they would reach out and want to honor him as the Strong Kid of the Game is pretty special.”