When I first began my basketball program in 2016, one of the very first students I had was a young man by the name of Monjavid. This kid was truly a blessing to me! I knew in my initial meeting with Monjavid that he was a special young man. He was very shy and quiet. In his shyness, he’d turn his head away as he cut his eyes up at me, smiling from ear to ear. He brought joy to my evening meetings with him, because I knew what it meant for him to be there. Although I didn’t quite have a full understanding of what Monjavid’s emotional state was, as I didn’t make it a point to ask, I knew that there was something that made him unique.
What was undeniably evident, was that Monjavid could shoot the basketball extremely well. I mean, really well! I was amazed at the gift he had for putting the ball in the hoop. I showed him the form, and almost to a tee he could imitate exactly what I was showing him to do. I was extremely impressed that it was so easy for him. He was awesome!!!
It wasn’t until after our time together was complete, that I learned why Monjavid was such an amazing kid. His mother sent this to me, “… Because of you, my son, who is autistic, has come out of his shell this year during the basketball season. He was told by so many that he has an amazing talent when it comes to those long jump shots. Thanks to you and your classes, my son has only missed 4 out of I don’t know how many shots that he took this year. So again, thank you, and may you continue to succeed in all of your future endeavors.”
That letter touched my heart… After receiving that message, I had a much greater understanding as to why he could lock in with such intensity and shoot the basketball so exceptionally well. The repetitive nature of shooting the ball is what makes a great shooter, great!! For Monjavid, that was a gift he was blessed with at birth.
I am not naive to the fact that autism isn’t pretty. So many youth struggle with the day to day nature of this neurodevelopmental disorder. But I believe and have witnessed, that deep within those who are autistic there are extraordinary gift to be displayed. I could see Monjavid light up when he began to shoot at our lessons, there was stimulation there for him that he really loved. My encounter with him gave me an entirely new perspective. I’m just wondering how many more share this gift for shooting the basketball the way he does?
Saturday, April 28th from 4-6pm at First Baptist church on the corner of Washington and Taylor St (downtown Kokomo) I’m hosting a free basketball event for kids with autism. This will be a special opportunity to meet, and explore the gifts and talents of autistic children in basketball. I sure would love to meet so many of you who live in or around the Kokomo area. Thank you!!
To RSVP, or to receive more information, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org..