When Deputy Sheriff Mike Terry spotted what appeared to be an abandoned bag in the middle of a Mayfair bus lane on a cold January night, he did a U-turn to check it out, even though he was off-duty. Instead of luggage, Terry discovered Kyle Tucker, a teen with cerebral palsy, who was lost and shivering and sitting hunched over in the roadway, near the intersection of Cottman Avenue and Crispin Street.

“It was dark, and a bus could have run him over,” Terry said in an interview, recalling how he took Tucker, 13, home to his worried family the night of Jan. 14, shortly after 9. Tucker had gotten on the wrong SEPTA bus that day for his ride home from school, Terry said.

When Terry later learned that the teen loved basketball, particularly the Villanova Wildcats, and had never been to a game, Terry decided to surprise him with tickets to Saturday’s Villanova-Butler University game at the Wells Fargo Center. The seats were close to the court.

“It was exciting,” Tucker said after the game. “The best part was when player No. 4 slam-dunked. I screamed and screamed.” The dunk, by Eric Paschall, was a highlight of a game that ended the way it should for such a dream day for Tucker -- with the Wildcats winning, 75-54.

Before the game, Tucker was invited to meet the team on the court during warm-ups. He posed for photographs with players and was given a Wildcats T-shirt. He couldn’t believe how big the arena was.

When the game started, he was wowed by all the action. “I loved it,” he said. He enjoyed the game alongside his father, Rashid Bister; his brother, Nathan, 14; and Terry in seats just behind the Villanova bench.

Terry, who played basketball in college and now shoots hoops in a law enforcement league that competes around the country, said he arranged for the family to arrive at the game in a stretch SUV, and then Villanova “rolled out the red carpet."

“We had an awesome time,” Terry said afterward, describing how they munched on pretzels and hoagies during the game and cheered the team to victory.

Terry said that Bister told him after the game that Tucker has been quiet and reserved and that attending the game had sparked joy that’s been missing for a while in his life.

Tucker said his love of basketball came from stories that his father told about growing up playing basketball and from shooting hoops with his brother.

After Terry rescued Tucker, he was given a commendation of merit by Sheriff Jewell Williams. Tucker’s mother, Cher, had written a letter to the sheriff saying the family was “extremely grateful for Deputy Terry’s dedication and humanity.”

Terry, who has six children, told Tucker’s family that night in January that the young man “now had a new big brother” who would look out for him. Terry said that in the past he has helped host charity basketball games for children with autism and cancer and is considering holding one for children with cerebral palsy.

But before that, he plans to pick up a few more basketball tickets. This time, Tucker will get a chance to watch live his other favorite roundball team -- the Sixers.