COLUMBIA, S.C. – Jory Fleming sat quietly on the South Carolina bench in the moments leading up to Saturday night’s game against Ole Miss. At his feet, his service dog, Daisy, sat faithfully.
When the Gamecocks took their place for the national anthem, Fleming was there, standing with his hand over his heart next to South Carolina coach Frank Martin. The Gamecocks honored Fleming, a South Carolina senior and Rhodes Scholarship recipient, on Saturday and Martin was effusive in his praise after South Carolina’s 67-56 win.
“He’s an inspiration,” Martin said. “Standing next to him right before the national anthem and seeing that smile on his face ear to ear, I think that’s a moment that hopefully sticks with him for a long time and very deservedly so for his great accomplishments.
“He’s a star and he shines brighter than most. He deserved that moment so he knows Gamecock nation really, really appreciates and respects what he is really about.”
Fleming, who has autism, received a personalized framed basketball jersey from the USC basketball program. South Carolina president Harris Pastides presented Fleming with the trophy. South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp then presented Fleming with an autographed helmet.
All the while, the strong crowd on hand gave hearty cheers for Fleming, the 10th Rhodes Scholar winner in school history.
Fleming was presented with a basketball jersey and signed helmet from Ray Tanner and Will Muschamp pic.twitter.com/P20R4G5Jty
— Mike Wilson (@MikeWilsonAJC) January 15, 2017
“We always provide the field and the court and the athletic venues to promote our athletes a lot,” Martin said. “Because they score 21 points in a game or whatever, they get to sit here and visit with (the media). They get to go on a court in front of 17,000 people. That’s awesome.
“They’ve earned the right for those moments, but what a great opportunity to provide a young man like him that’s accomplished so much at a young age the same platform to celebrate his accomplishments, to show our guys, to show everyone in the stands that rather than dwell on something that’s maybe not as good as it is for others, that if you dwell on your good rather than dwell on that negativity, that you can achieve unbelievable things in life.”