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Special needs child beats the odds and lives out March Madness dreams on the court
Charlie Johnson, 12, has overcome a developmental disability to become a champion on the basketball court at the Notre Dame School of Dallas. (Image source: (KTVT-TV video screenshot)

Special needs child beats the odds and lives out March Madness dreams on the court

Loyola University in Chicago may be getting all the headlines as the feel-good story of March Madness, but 12-year-old Charlie Johnson has had a miraculous run of his own, KTVT-TV reports.

Who is Charlie?

Charlie is a huge basketball fan who has lived his entire life with Cortical Dysplasia, a condition that occurs when the top layer of the brain does not form properly.

The condition made it a challenge for Charlie to speak and run, but it didn’t prevent him from being his four siblings’ biggest fan while attending their weekend games.

“On any given weekend, he would attend six games, seven games, but he had to watch the whole time,” Brett Johnson, Charlie’s father, told KTVT.

What’s his story?

Charlie has not let his condition keep him from living out his love for basketball.

His school, Notre Dame School of Dallas, focuses on students with special needs and developmental disabilities. It also gave Charlie the chance to win it all on the basketball court.

Charlie and his squad went undefeated in the North Texas Special Olympics tournament last month.

Not only that, but Charlie might end up being a multi-sport star. According to KTVT, he rides horses and is learning soccer and karate.

“In sports, everyone is equal,” Brett said. “You get on the floor, and it’s just you and your teammates. And that has opened him up and given him the confidence that not only carried him forward in sports — but also into real life.”

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