Evelyn Leathers took a job in Texas this year and hadn't seen her son, Miles, in two months. She decided to surprise him last week for Thanksgiving and come to his first game of the year against Sun Valley, ranked No. 12 in the Observer's preseason Sweet 16.
Evelyn got up at 2 a.m. last Tuesday to drive three hours to Dallas to try to get to the airport. When she got there, she would use a "stand-by" ticket, meaning her ticket was only good if a flight wasn't full. She didn't know if she would get a flight in time to make the Eagles game or not.
But she got to the gym in time.
And he saw her.
"It was really emotional for him," East Mecklenburg coach Jason Grube said, "because she surprised him. He hadn't seen her in a while."
Properly inspired, Leathers had the game of his life. He made a 70-foot shot just before halftime.
In the second half, he continued his hot play.
East Meck, which started last season 1-12 and finished 8-18, pulled off a big early-season upset, taking down Sun Valley 74-69.
Leathers finished with 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting. He had 13 rebounds, nine assists and five steals.
Grube said his mom gave him a big present by coming. And he said Leathers gave her one right back.