UC Davis players towered over him, because he's only 12 years old. But Jackson Manning loves the game as much as everyone else on the court.
"I just love the action in sports, and the gameplay and the strategy," Jackson told FOX40.
But what a difference a year makes.
Jackson spent 39 days in a hospital bed at UC Davis Medical Center. He had a collapsed lung and had to re-learn how to walk and talk. He found out he had Type 1 diabetes.
Now he's healed and his story and strength are making an impact.
"If you talk to the student athletes they'll tell you he's an inspiration to them," said Interim Director of Athletics Communications Eric Bankston. "Having him join the team, everyone's just thrilled that we can make this a reality."
Jackson dreams of becoming a sports commentator. As he works toward that goal, he's already wise beyond his years.
He has this advice to anyone fighting a tough battle:
"Find inspiration. There's always something out there to inspire you to work hard, get out of the hospital and live normal lives. Because whatever disease you have, it won't stop you from living the life you're living currently or the life you've been planning to live."
Jackson will be honorary team captain at Saturday night's game at UC Davis, which starts at 5 p.m.