DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- This past weekend, the students at one DeKalb County high school decided to make homecoming special for the most memorable kid in their class.
That kid would be Rujeko Mazaiwana, better known to his classmates as J.J.
WATCH | The moment J.J. became a king
RELATED | Very special couple elected homecoming king and queen at Dacula HS
"J.J. is an outstanding young man," said his mother Callista.
J.J.'s family moved from Zimbabwe when he was 7 months old. A few years later, his parents discovered he was not developing as expected.
"His social behavior is a little bit different," Callista said. "Trying to figure out what his condition was, we got to know he is autistic."
Four years ago, J.J. moved with his family to DeKalb County and enrolled at Lakeside High. He promptly took over.
"All you could talk about is this new kid," recalls fellow senior Brad Earnest. "Whenever you walk down the hall and see J.J., he's there to give you a hug, dap you up, or give you a high-five."
As J.J. began his senior year, his friends came up with a plan to honor him.
"We decided, 'Homecoming court's coming up,'" Earnest said. "We wanted to get a movement started."
The "J.J. for Homecoming King" campaign ensued at school and on social media. It culminated at last Friday's football game. At halftime, J.J. was announced as the winner.
"They cheered up for me," recalls the newly crowned king. And how did that feel? "Great and exciting."
Added J.J.'s mother, "It's one of those moments that made me really proud as a parent ... and I'm pretty sure it changed J.J.'s life."
For more stories by Matt Pearl, you can like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, or read his "Telling The Story" blog.