An unexpected friendship between Omaha's Creighton Prep legion baseball team and a young boy from North Carolina knows no distance.
11-year-old Grayson Gilbert was the team's 'bat boy' at a the American Legion World Series Championship in Shelby, North Carolina last august. The Five Point Bank baseball team quickly formed a strong bond with Gilbert and the other bat boy and even surprised them with team rings via Skype at the team's banquet in January.
GIlbert and his parents traveled to Omaha on Wednesday to support the baseball players at the CWS tournament, showing their friendship goes well beyond the field.
"He's been so excited. Our flight app kept counting down the days for us and he would be like, 'look Dad! X amount of days til Omaha!" said Garrett Gilbert, Grayson's dad.
The family is staying with one the baseball player's family.
Brandi Gilbert, Grayson's mom says it's not just Grayson who is close to the team. The whole family is close with the coaches and other parents and sit together during the stands.
"Before our trip, we kept telling people we were going to visit our Nebraska family. And they'd be like, 'oh we didn't know you had family in Nebraska.' So we'd have to explain that this baseball team and their families are like our family. So it's a trip where we came to visit family," said Brandi.
The team was happy to be reunited with Grayson and his family too.
"We knew they were coming so there was a lot of anticipation - and not just for the team but for the families and even the new guys who had heard a lot about him," said Max Mandel, one of the players.
"When I saw him were doing batting practice and I ran out and gave him a big old hug. It's like he never left," said the team's pitching coach, Jerry Wellwood.
It's a special bond, says Grayson's mom. She says they taught him how to be a champion in baseball and in life. Grayson attempted suicide last year after being bullied at school. She adds the team helped him gain confidence.
"I can't help but get emotional watching him with the team because a little over a year ago, we didn't know from day to day what was going to happen each day and how it played out and I think that everything happened for a reason," said Brandi.
"When they heard Grayson's story, a lot of them really opened up. A lot of them have little brothers and I think they kinda looked at him like a little brother and at that point it was a unique friendship that started," said Wellwood.
The family's trip lasted until Sunday, and included attending all of the team's baseball games and even going to their first College World Series game.
"It's not a matter of if we come back, it's a matter of when," said Grayson.