The story behind the photo


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CHAMPAIGN — Jane Stillman plans to frame the photo of her son, Walker, that went viral this weekend.

"I’m going to hang it on the wall," the Champaign Central High School assistant principal said, "so when he gets old he can remember how high he used to jump."

Longtime local photographer Liz Brunson captured Central junior Walker Stillman seemingly floating in overtime of Friday’s Senior Night boys’ basketball game against Danville. After posting the image to social media, her phone started buzzing.

"You wouldn’t believe the attention," she said.

By Sunday, national media outlets like Sporting News had linked to the photo, which generated hundreds of thousands of likes and comments on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

Central athletic director John Woods produced video of the play courtesy Central coach Jeff Finke, who was dissecting game film Sunday.

"We wanted to squash any rumors that it was photoshopped," Woods said. "Or that Walker was a Jedi."

The reaction from Walker Stillman, who has been called everything from "Float Boy" to "Jesus" on social media? 

"Most the people I’ve heard from ask me ‘What were you doing? " he said. "I had jumped for a rebound and saw that it wasn’t coming my way so I kind of stopped what I was doing."

Brunson, whose kids graduated from Central, has been on the high school beat for more than a decade. At Central’s Senior Night in 2015, she also drew attention with her photo of student-manager Trey Ronk, in uniform for the first time, making a last-second three-pointer with his dad cheering in the background.

The popularity of the Stillman photo, however, caught Brunson off guard.

"I really didn’t have much reaction when I saw the shot because I’ve taken plenty of pictures of Walker and I know he can jump," Brunson said. "I just thought it was funny, had no idea that it would go viral like that."