Kyle's house was packed as everyone showed up to watch Jason's first appearance on the show.
Samantha showed up with some of her friends, all of Jason's teammates came, and even the guys from Newberry's basketball team joined in on the fun.
Kyle's mom was smiling brightly as she looked out at the group of people in her house as she worked in the kitchen.
Jason's mom and dad were helping her as they warmed and prepared some food. Kyle's mom put a tray in the oven "Thanks you two. I really appreciate the help in the kitchen."
Jason's mom laughed "You don't need to thank us Veronica. If anything we should be the ones doing the thanking.
We wanted to do something special like this to celebrate Jason's first episode but our place is so tiny. We wouldn't have been able to fit that many guests."
Jason's dad added "Naomi is right. We should be the ones thanking you. It is so kind of you to let us use your beautiful home to throw this party.
Not just that. I can't believe you spent all day cooking all this food. I don't know how you managed to do that before coming to watch the game. You put together a real feast."
Kyle's mom took a big bowl of potato salad out of the fridge "Well I guess it worked out for the both us then.
I got to do the thing that I love the most which is cooking and I got to put this big ol house to good use for once.
I'm just glad that we can all get together for a good time like this. If you told me last year that Kyle would have so many friends that would want to come over to his house I would have sworn that you was on something haha.
I really do have to thank you for that sweet child of yours. He's brought so much good energy into Kyle's life."
Tears started to stream down her face. She had to move the potato salad so that none would fall into it "My biggest fear that had always been on my mind was what would happen to Kyle if anything ever happened to me,
My folks is gone and I'm an only child. Kyle ain't never really had no friends before. He had never brought anyone to our home before he met Jason.
Kyle had always been big for his age but deep down he's a real soft and gentle kid. I was always terrified of the thought that without me Kyle would be all alone.
Now even if god forbid I take my last breath tonight I can rest peacefully knowing that Kyle has someone in this world that truly cares for him."
Jason's mom burst into tears and hugged Kyle's mom while Jason's dad came over and patted her on the back.
They could relate somewhat to how she felt. Before Jason started going to Jefferson he didn't have any friends either.
But at least Jason had Tory so he was never truly alone. And even if they didn't have their parents in the picture if something happened to one of them the other one would still be there for Jason. It must have weighed down on her mind a lot as a single mother.
Jason's mom still had tears in her eyes but she laughed "Kyle was right Veronica. You are a walking melodrama. Look at the waterworks you turned on."
Kyle's mom laughed "You're right. I gotta pull myself together. We still got a whole house to feed.
Especially those Newberry boys. They look like they ready to eat the leather off my couch if we don't serve em some meat soon."
Jason was sitting in the living room with the rest of the guys from the team. Jason was about to scoop some mac n cheese into his mouth when he saw Samantha walk in with some other girls.
Jason put his plate down on the table and stood up. He walked up to Samantha and gave her a quick hug "Hey Sammy. Thanks for coming. Are these your friends."
After their quick hug Samantha nodded her head and smiled "Yeah these are my friends. You told me it was an open invite so I thought your teammates would appreciate having some cute girls to talk to."
Samantha and Jason introduced the guys from the team with Samantha's friends. After that was done Samantha went to the kitchen to get a plate.
She came back with a heavy-duty paper plate full of food and sat down next to Jason "Wow! Kyle's mom does not play when it comes to putting together a plate."
Jason took a bite out of a piece of fried chicken. After he was done chewing he smiled "I know right? She's the best. I've never left here hungry. Not even once."
Samantha burst out laughing after she heard Jason say that "Of course that's all you would care about.
So how do you feel Mr. Hollywood? How's stardom been treating you? Any run-ins with the paparazzi? I would love to hear some celeb stories."
Jason was used to Samantha's teasing by now but he still rolled his eyes "Come on Sammy. This is literally my first time being on TV.
No one knows who I am. The only people that have asked to take a picture with me are my parents and Kyle's mom. How would I have any celeb stories?"
Samantha took a bite of mac n cheese "Well technically this isn't your first time being on TV. There was that whole mall thing that happened not too long ago."
Jason chuckled 'She's got me there' "Whatever Sammy. You know what I meant." Samantha asked "Where's Tory? I can't imagine that she would miss out on this."
Jason pointed to the kitchen "You probably just missed her. She's helping out in the kitchen. Ima be back. I'm just going to go say hi to the guys from Newberry."
Samantha wiped her mouth with a tissue before standing up "Ooh let me go. It's been a while since I said hi to Tyreek and Hash."
Samantha and Jason walked over to the garage where all the guys from Newberry were eating on some plastic chairs and tables that his parents had borrowed.
Everyone started making some noise after they saw Jason. They were all congratulating him and teasing him about being on the show.
After saying hi and catching up with everyone Jason and Sammy took a seat next to Tyreek and Hash.
Hash looked up from his plate and smiled "Well if it ain't the man himself. How you doin Young Buckets? It's been a hot minute since the last time we saw each other."
Tyreek laughed "He's in middle school dog of course you ain't about to be seein him every day.
Maybe they should send yo dumbass back. That way you can see him as much as you want and they could try to fill that empty head of yours again."
Jason and Samantha laughed from hearing Tyreek and Hash's friendly banter. Jason took a sip from the can of soda that he had brought with him.
"So how's your niece Tyreek? Everything been good so far?" Tyreek smiled and shook his head "I don't know how you did it man but she actually been going to school lately. And she ain't been in no trouble either.
Ima keep it straight with you. I didn't believe you when you first hit me up and told me that you convinced her to drop the gang shit.
But the proof is in the puddin. You turned me into a believer man. You're a miracle worker." Jason chuckled "So how about the show Tyreek?"
Tyreek smiled "I ain't good for much other than basketball but I'm a man of my word. I'll hit the producer up and let him know that I'm willing to join the show."
Jason was waiting for the notification to pop up telling him that he had completed the mission but it never came. Nevertheless Jason was thrilled to hear that Tyreek would join the show "Awesome! And I got some more good news Tyreek.
You know how you said that you wanted to take your niece out of the hood? Well the station agreed to let you stay in one of the houses that they're renting for the crew that will film you and me.
Best part is that you won't have to pay anything. You can drop your job at the warehouse and focus on playing basketball."
Tyreek was stunned for a moment. After a couple seconds of silence tears started streaming down his face.
Hash slapped him on the back "Congrats man. Not only is you gonna be on TV. You get to take yo niece outta the hood just like you always talk about."
Tyreek wiped the tears off of his face with his huge hands. He smiled at Jason "Thank you man. You been a real blessin.
When I first saw you play against Trell at the park I had no idea you would bring so much change into my life. If Shania was here I would drag her over to thank you.
But as soon as I mentioned your name her face twisted like she just ate a lemon and she got real salty. But I'm sure she'll appreciate this once she gets older."
Jason told Tyreek that he was just happy to help. After about ten minutes Jason could hear everyone inside the house shouting "Everyone hurry up! The show is starting!"
- - -
The screen was all black. Then in big white letters "Through the Hoops" showed up. The screen then turned into a slideshow of Jason's baby pictures.
A slow song was played on a piano as the slideshow continued. Javier's voice could be heard "So how long have you been playing basketball?"
There was a moment of silence before Jason's voice answered "You probably won't believe this but I've only been playing for less than a month."
Javier laughed "I don' think anyone would believe you if you told them that. You're just so good and so young. You look like you've been playing since you could walk."
The picture changed to one from Halloween showing Jason and Tory dressed as salt and pepper shakers.
Jason laughed "I honestly don't know what else to say. I was shocked too. As soon as I picked up the ball for the first time it was like my body already knew what to do. It felt so natural."
Javier asked a few more questions and Jason answered naturally. Their conversations went smoothly.
After three minutes of easy and generic questions Javier laughed "Well Jason I think that we teased the audience more than enough. Are you ready to share your life with the world?"
The slideshow faded out and revealed Jason sitting on the floor of the gym back at the school.
He was dripping sweat and his face was slightly flushed. It was obvious that he had just been practicing.
Jason smiled at the camera and waved "I'm ready. My name is Jason Yang and this is my story. Through the Hoops."