VIDEO: Georgia teen basketball player with special needs helps team win in epic buzzer beater

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A true display of sportsmanship was seen on a Decatur High School basketball court. A very special Decatur senior scored for the first time thanks of course to her God-given talent, but also to the help of her teammates and even her opponents.

The inspiring moment was caught on camera and had the whole crowd roaring.

“Ellie is the heartbeat of our team. She’s our biggest cheerleader,” said head coach Eric Dawson.

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But Ellie Rapp is now known as the girl behind Tuesday night’s epic buzzer beater against the Clarkston Angoras.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, I did it!,’” Rapp said.

“Every kid should have a moment of glory, and kids with special needs, they’re sometimes really hard to come by,” said Rapp’s mother, Melissa Rapp.

Ellie has Williams syndrome, a rare genetic condition, but her passion is basketball. And Tuesday night was her first time scoring in a game as a Decatur Bulldog.

“It made me feel like I was a hero but also just being myself out there more than I could ever dream of. It was like crazy,” Ellie said.

Dawson put Ellie in with a little more than two minutes left in the game. They were leading by 28 points.

“We’ve tried many times to get her some scores,” Dawson said.

This time was different. This time true sportsmanship and compassion took over.


“One of our teammates whispered to one of the girls on the team for Clarkston and said, ‘This is one of our special teammates. We want to try to get her to score,’” Dawson said. “She signaled to her teammates, signaled to her coach and the rest was history. They started rebounding for her and she hit a buzzer beater.”

A true team effort from both teams to create a moment that will last a lifetime.

“I just hope the message is stay true to yourself. Be brave. Don’t be scared,” Ellie said.

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“What we’ve learned through basketball is let them try and the community and the people you surround yourself with can really surprise you in wonderful ways,” said Melissa Rapp.

Ellie is applying to Georgia Tech’s excel program and hopes to maybe coach basketball one day.