When Dakota Reason was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant, a doctor told his mother Sami to “take him home and love him because he won’t be worth anything.”
Those words echoed through Sami’s mind as she watched her son, now 18, score four baskets in a high school basketball game on Tuesday night.
Over the past 18 years, boy from Sheffield, Iowa has defied medical limitations at every turn.
“We were actually told by [doctors at] the Mayo Clinic that his brain scan said that he should be in a vegetative state,” Sami tells PEOPLE. “He has completely blown away the doctors up there, they said there’s no way he should be functioning the way he is.”
Joining the high school basketball team he manages on the court was just the latest accomplishment in a life full of overcoming obstacles – but it meant the world to Dakota.
“The joke was he’s going to glow in the dark because he just was shining [after the game],” Sami says.
A lifelong sports fan, Dakota has served as West Fork High School’s basketball team manager since his freshman year. “Their support has been phenomenal,” Sami says.
While Dakota sits on the bench and cheers his team on for West Fork games, he’s been able to showcase his own skills on the court in the Special Olympics in Des Moines for the past two years. Both years, his West Fork teammates have traveled to Dakota’s games to cheer him on.
For this reason, Sami knew Dakota’s teammates would support him in his West Fork debut on Tuesday. What she didn’t see coming was how the opposing team would go out of their way to make Dakota feel amazing too.
“At one point he shot and missed and one of the members of the other team got the ball and handed it back to him to shoot it again when he could’ve taken it down the court and scored,” she recalls. “I was so in awe of both teams for letting him play.”