Dancing Toronto barista with autism appears on 'Ellen'
Published Tuesday, February 23, 2016 5:51PM EST
A teen with autism who’s known for warming the hearts of Toronto residents with cups of coffee and dance moves has met a celebrity also known for busting a move.
Sam Forbes, a 17-year-old high school student and Starbucks employee, met host Ellen DeGeneres on an episode of her talk show on Thursday.
"I am a huge fan of you," the green-apron-clad teen told DeGeneres as he met her on set.
"Thanks so much. I'm a huge fan of you!" she said back.
"You're an inspiration, Sam. To so many people watching right now, you're a huge inspiration."
Producers at "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" contacted the dancing barista after a video of the teen at a North York Starbucks went viral in late January.
Forbes was joined on the show by store manager Chris Ali, who helped the teen stumble upon his talent after hiring him. The teen had previously been told that he'd never be able to work.
"Sam really stood out to me. He told me one of his dreams was to be a barista, and I tried to make that happen," Ali said.
Ali said the dancing helps channel the sudden movements caused by Forbes's disorder, while building his confidence and helping him become a better barista.
"He's a really good friend, and I wouldn't give him up for anything," Forbes said of Ali.
Ali said he's noticed a change in Forbes since being hired a few months ago. The teen used to be unable to look Ali in the eye, but now he's outgoing, interacts with customers and works independently.
"Sam has such a big heart, and he's made me a better person," Ali said.
DeGeneres gave Forbesa tip jar -- complete with a smiling cardboard cut-out of herself -- then asked him whether he liked to travel.
"Since I was about four, I've always admired Japan," he told her.
She then presented Forbes with a trip to the country, bringing the teen to tears.
Turning to Ali, she said she had something for him too. She played a video where three Toronto Raptors players announced that Forbes and Ali were invited to a practice where they'd meet all the players. They was also given tickets to a game.
Watch video clips and the entire show on CTV.ca
Sam Forbes reacts after learning Ellen DeGeneres is sending him on a trip to Japan. (The Ellen DeGeneres Show)