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Advocate staff photo by APRIL BUFFINGTON -- Devon Gales shocked by the Human Jukebox playing and Southern University cheerleaders, supporters and family greeting him as he gets off the plane at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport on Saturday, March 5, 2016.

ATHENS, Ga. — Former Southern football player Devon Gales, who suffered a spinal injury in a game at Georgia in 2015, was part of the ceremony Saturday night when the school received the NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award.

Seated in a wheelchair at midcourt during halftime of the Georgia-LSU basketball game, Gales was handed the trophy, awarded by the NCAA Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct.

Georgia was one of four universities to receive the honor for the 2015-16 academic year. The school was recognized for its first-response treatment and its continued support in helping Gales with the rehab process, which continues in Atlanta.

Gales, wearing a red shirt with the familiar block “G” on the chest, received a standing ovation from the Stegeman Coliseum crowd while his parents, Tish and Donny, and two siblings looked on.

A smiling Gales said he didn’t know he'd be part of the presentation until just a few minutes before going onto the court.

“They said they had something for me,” he said. “They said, ‘You have a surprise when you get here.' Georgia always has something, and I thank them.”

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.