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College basketball star saves wheelchair-using fan from crowd

Jan. 15, 2013 at 8:52 AM ET

North Carolina State may have upset top-ranked Duke over the weekend, but the real play of the game came after the victory when Wolfpack fans stormed the court.

Wheelchair user Will Privette was one of the first students to rush the court, only to be swallowed up seconds later by the rowdy celebrants. The senior communications major, who had been recording the victory with his cell phone, immediately got knocked to the ground.

“My phone went flying out of my hand, and my glasses flew off my face,” he recalled Tuesday on TODAY.

“Naturally, I tried to get my phone back before I worried about myself,” he said with a chuckle, but Privette acknowledged that very quickly, “I started worrying, ‘OK, this is not going to end well at all.”

Luckily, C.J. Leslie spotted Privette on the floor and sprung into action. The N.C. State forward, who led all scorers with 25 points, turned out to be the star of his team's 84-76 victory Saturday against the Blue Devils in more ways than one.   

“I looked down and he was there and he was covering up his face, and I was like, ‘Oh wow, I got to save him.’ Something came over me ‘You got to do something about this,’” he told himself.

Fortunately, the crowd was cooperative as Leslie pushed students aside to reach for Privette. Initially, he thought Privette would be traumatized from what had just occurred. He learned differently as soon as the two connected.

“I was originally just going to put him back in his chair. But when he got in my arms, he started cheering, so I was like, ‘Wow,’ so I just kept cheering with him,” he said. “It was about a good three or four minutes where he was in my arms, and we started cheering together.

“After that, I had to put him down because my arm was getting a little tired,” he said.

Privette, who was born without a tibia and with other leg deformities, has been in a wheelchair for his entire life. The avid Wolfpack fan, who hasn’t missed a basketball game this year, had been rolled onto the court by the university’s student body president.

“I told him that I wanted to do it, so we did it,” he said.

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