A Kent State basketball recruit will become the first player with autism to earn a scholarship for a Division 1 NCAA team sport when he joins the team next year.
Kalin Bennett, an 18-year-old from Little Rock, Arkansas, was recruited by several schools, but chose Kent State University not only for its basketball team but for its dedication to autism awareness, his mother, Sonja Bennett, told INSIDER.
Bennett, a 6’10”, 300-pound center, signed a letter of intent to join Kent State’s team earlier this month, according to Cleveland.com.
Now Bennett, who is attending a gap year program at Link Year Prep in Branson, Missouri, wants to use his platform to inspire others.
“It feels good to be able to make history like this,” Bennett told INSIDER. “It feels good to hear stories about other people struggling with autism looking up to me.”
He hopes that his rebound talents, positive attitude and ability to be a team player will help Kent State succeed next season.
“They someone who can hoop — and I can hoop,” he said.
Doctors didn’t know if Bennett would ever speak or walk
As a child, doctors that Bennett would remain nonverbal throughout his life, and early diagnosis suggested he may never walk. But Bennett prevailed, and through hard work and therapy he overcame his struggles to become the basketball player he is today.
His coach at Link Year, Adam Donyes, said Bennett is the glue that holds his team together.
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