By Dana Griffin

EAST GREENWICH, RI- Back at his former high school, Newport–native, Rome Kirby gave thanks to those who've helped him excel.

"I definitely played a lot of hooky and went sailing. You know, without them I for sure wouldn't have graduated so thank you," said Kirby.

Math teacher, Terry Coes said, "You know I tried to craft some projects for him that had to do with sailing like navigation and wind directions and vectors and things like that."

Kirby's History teacher had to eat his own words after thinking this once tiny freshman wouldn't grow up to be a professional athlete.

"He said, well Mr. Hughes, what are you saying, I'm not going to achieve my dream? And then years later I bumped into him in Jamestown and I reminded him of that story and at that point he was bigger than me, 190 pounds, an established professional sailor and we laughed," said John Hughes.

Kirby is now a part one of the greatest comebacks in sports history; taking the 34th America's Cup after being down 8–1 against Emirates team New Zealand.

"To actually be on the team is really, really tough and you know, then to go win it is almost near impossible," said Kirby.

Team Oracle USA was penalized prior to the competition for illegally modifying their boat.

Kirby said, "It was a bit of a mistake on some people's part but you know that's life. We got penalized. Do I agree with it? Not necessarily but as a team we just moved on."

His father, Jerry, is a two–time America's Cup winner, but says seeing his son win was much more fulfilling.

"Disney would reject the story because it would sound too fairy tale but it was a great fairy tale ending for all those guys," said Jerry Kirby.

Rocky Hill School dedicated a brick in honor of Kirby which will be added to a walkway on the school grounds.

Next for Kirby is a one-week vacation in Hawaii, then back to sailing as he prepares to defend the 35th America's Cup.

©2013 ABC6/WLNE-TV. All Rights Reserved.