In honor of our 13th season, we've been turning the number 13 into a lucky one all season long by giving 13 of our viewers incredible surprises (remember this Dale Earnhardt Jr. superfan?)
For our latest surprise, it was our honor to surprise Sekoe White — the head basketball coach of the 2019 Boys Mason-Dixon Champions from Mississippi.
After he lost his hearing at age two, his father named him Sekoe, an African name that means "warrior."
"I guess that lit the fire I have in me," Sekoe tells us.
So much so that after playing semi-pro basketball in college, Sekoe decided to become a coach! And recently, a video went viral of him giving a pep talk to his all-deaf high school team using American Sign Language (ASL).
"When I stepped back and really watched [the video] — I guess I didn't realize the impact it [could] make on society," Coach White says. "A lot of people don't know what deaf people can do."
While Sekoe makes a big impact on his team and the world, we wanted to make an impact on him! So…
We not only had his team members send him beautiful thank you messages, but Sekoe's favorite NBA player of all time, Kobe Bryant, shared a special message, too! (Watch for yourself in the video above.)
"I understand you're a big fan," Kobe said. "Truth is, the work you do makes you the hero."
"I believe in the importance of inspiring young athletes and the power of transformation the game offers," he continued. "You inspire your team every day and serve as a true professor in life, so thank YOU."
And the cherry on top? Kobe sent Sekoe and his entire team signed copies of his new book, The Wizenard Series: Training Camp!
Now, if you know anything about Rach, you know that wasn't the only surprise. Our friends at Wilson Sporting Goods sent over customized basketballs and backpacks for Coach White's entire team, PLUS $2,000 to put towards the next season.
But even more amazing? Sekoe's wish for what can come from sharing his story.
"What I'd love for people to learn about the story is that deaf people are just like you," Sekoe says. "So if you work hard, you get what you want and be what you want to be."