Alabama Hoops Drawing Inspiration From Autistic Son of Assistant Coach

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Alabama has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in almost twenty years, a feat almost as well respected as Kingston Pettway, the 9-year-old son of one of their assistant coaches.

Kingston, son of Crimson Tide assistant Antoine Pettway, is the oldest of three children born to Antonie and wife Kim Minor Pettway. He also happens to have autism. Kingston, his strength and his perseverance have inspired his dad’s players during their magical 2021 season.

Kim recently shared Kingston’s story on Facebook, and an outpouring of support during the Tide’s run in the NCAA Tournament then flowed in.

“I never expected the response,” Minor Pettway told reporters. “I’ve heard from so many people. I heard from a mother who told me her child has just been diagnosed with autism and they hadn’t told anyone and this story was giving her strength. 

“We were that way with Kingston. I always protected him, always shielded him. I was always more self-conscious because I didn’t want people to treat him differently. As he has gotten older, we’ve embraced him, not shielded him. He can play basketball. He can shoot and dribble. He can do so many things and people need to know that.”

Minor Pettway said she shared Kingston’s story for a couple of reasons.

”First, the world needs to know how special this team is,” she said. “Second, we talked about this and it’s time for Antoine and I to embrace that we can affect people positively. When we first received the diagnosis on Kingston, we were devastated. We asked, ‘Why us, God?’

“Now we ask, ‘Why not us? If we can help someone, then why not us?’”

Alabama coach Nate Oats offers nothing but praise for Antoine and his family.

“I love Antoine,” Oats said. “As good of an assistant basketball coach as he is, he’s a better father. It’s special, me having three daughters. He’s got a kid with special needs, and it’s tough. It’s really tough in this bubble. … He FaceTimes home all the time.”

The Crimson Tide blew Maryland away 96-77 in the second round of the Tournament. Next up is a Sunday matchup against UCLA. Kingstown, who watches the games at home, will be with them all the way.

“They all have their own inspiration,” Minor Pettway said. “That’s what’s amazing. It has nothing to do with the cameras being on or people seeing them. I just know one thing: They love him. That’s amazing.”

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side,

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