ANOKA, Minn. - Standing ovations at county board meetings are rare. But what Malik Stewart did a month ago at a state wrestling championship is even more unusual.
"It didn't come out the best on my side but it did for him," Stewart said, recalling the match.
Stewart lost the championship but won the hearts of thousands. Instead of walking off the mat after losing to Mitchell McKee, he walked toward McKee's father, who is battling cancer, and hugged him.
The Anoka County Board of Commissioners recognized his sportsmanship with a certificate during their meeting Tuesday.
"Your actions really exemplify for the community what really is important in Minnesota and really in Anoka county," chair Rhonda Sivarajah told Stewart.
The attention at home and nationwide has been overwhelming for the soft spoken high schooler. But true to character he's handling it with grace.
"It's not really that big of a deal. The gesture is just who I am so I don't really want to get famous off it or anything. It's just being me," Stewart said.
His small act of kindness has created a giant ripple effect.
"I see it happening a lot more and I hope it happens globally," Blaine athletic director Shannon Gerrety said.
Stewart is taking it in stride and hopes for a championship next year. In the meantime he's looking forward to an invitation to visit McKee and his father this summer.
McKee recently won a national title for freestyle wrestling. McKee tells KARE 11 his father is currently receiving chemo.