BOISE, Idaho — Many kids out across the Treasure Valley look up to Boise State athletes and 8-year-old Boise State men's basketball fan Tucker Sullivan is one of them.
He's a huge fan of Bronco basketball player Justinian Jessup, and he got the surprise of his life this week.
“Tucker is a very vivacious sports fanatic. He loves the men’s Bronco basketball team, loves them," says Tucker Sullivan’s mom, Heather.
6’6” guard Justinian Jessup is a junior at Boise State. He’s well known to fans, and he loves being a part of the team.
“Oh, it's been awesome, I think what makes it a great school is just the people that I'm surrounded by every day," Jessup said.
When KTVB told him about an 8-year-old super fan who dreamed of shooting hoops with him, he was game to be a part of our big surprise. Tucker’s Mom and Dad were in on it too.
“We kind of fooled him thinking we were getting some tickets at the box office, and he asked if he could see the gym, and as soon as we walked in he saw Justinian walking toward him, and he immediately got choked up and was like, 'oh my gosh, it's Jessup!'” Heather said.
Before he knew it, Tucker was on the court playing ball at Taco Bell Arena with his hero.
“I couldn't believe it. I kind of thought it wasn't real. I came in and I was like why am I here? It was just really cool. He said that I could come play with him, and then all the players came out and they were just so nice to me, and it was super cool," Tucker said.
Tucker even got to dunk with the help of Jessup and a few other players.
“They lifted me up by my legs, and then I one-hand dunked it,” Tucker said.
“It probably meant the world to his little heart, that's just his dream," Heather said.
Head Coach Leon Rice says the team gets out in the community, to serve others, on a regular basis, which is important for Jessup.
“Our team just went to the juvenile detention center about a month ago, we do outreach stuff a lot. Speaking to those kids who might not think they can turn it around but we can give them some words of encouragement, support to switch it up," Jessup said.
Coach Rice says that's what it's all about, being a good student, player and a role model is just part of the Boise State way.
“Well, it's huge, because there's a lot of people watching, a lot of kids. We want our guys to be able to give back that way. When you get some encouragement from a guy like Justinian, you never know, maybe someday he'll be wearing his number here," Coach Rice said.
Tucker is hoping that will happen one day.
“Yeah, that very well could happen," he said.
For Jessup, meeting Tucker was an honor and the experience made him want to be a better player and person.
“It's awesome that I got to shoot with him. I definitely was in his position a long time ago. It's just cool, honestly, I had no idea I had people like that look up to me, and it makes me want to be an even better person," Jessup said.
Jessup was also just recognized as the fastest Bronco to get to 200 career three-pointers in program history.