Ardmore football team honors autistic team manager

ARDMORE, Ala - Friday was Senior Night at Ardmore High School. While fans took a moment to honor the students taking the field for the last home game, one of the football players wanted to honor the team manager.

Each student was escorted by their family, except Mack Hughes. He was accompanied by Kyle Redding, who he will leave his jersey to after the 2018-2019 season.  Hughes wanted his best friend by his side.

"I'm giving this jersey to Kyle because he's been my best friend since he's got here. He's always been there for me, I've always been there for him," Hughes said.

He isn't just his friend, Kyle's the team's manager. His mom and dad couldn't be more proud.

"If he was able to play - if he didn't have autism and have an immune deficiency - he'd love to be out there on the field with these kids, but instead he loves to show his gratitude by being a manager and helping them out the best he can," Kyle's father, Michael Redding, said.

"It's very special to me. I mean, they have really come together, and really took him under his wing, and took care of him this whole time," Kyle's mother, Dena Redding, said.

But, Head Football Coach Philip Wright says they aren't taking care of Kyle, Kyle is taking care of them.

"We could not get along without him," Coach Wright said.

And being part of the team began a friendship.

"He was shy and nervous and I could kind of tell, and he started being the water boy for our team, so I just started talking to him at practice you know, just slow casual, how's your day going. What's going on," Hughes said.

Which eventually turned two teammates, into a family.

"I always tell them that it's not about what I'm doing for him, it's about what he's doing for me. He helps me as much as I help him. He's as much of a friend to me as I am to him," Hughes said.

And while Friday night marked the end of Mack Hughes time on his home field,  it's just the beginning of he and Kyle Redding's lifelong friendship.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.