By Brad Edwards

(CBS) – CBS 2’s story last year about an Indiana boy stood up by his peers on his birthday was seen by a lot of people – more than 1 million.

That included Jim Toporski, assistant boy’s basketball coach for River Forest High School in Hobart, Ind. He told his colleagues about Gerald Hamilton.

One year ago, the Lake Station boy turned 9. He waited at the window for friends who never came to his birthday party. His sad story actually morphed into something happier, as people reached out to Gerald with words of encouragement and gifts.

Enter the basketball coaches at River Forest High.

All season, Gerald served as a ball boy and team manager. He struck up a friendship with star player Zach Thompson, a silky smooth jumper with a huge heart.

“That bond just started right off from the beginning,” Coach Derrick Milenkoff says.

Gerald has had multiple skull expansion surgeries and needs extra help. Zach plans to major in special education.

The River Forest varsity team lost in sectionals, but tied the school’s record for wins.

Gerald will return to the team next year.