Kalin Bennett didn’t take his first steps until age 4, but now he has become the first player with autism to be recruited by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association).
When he joins the Kent State University basketball team next year, Kalin will become the first autistic student-athlete to earn a NCCA scholarship, a division of the NBA (National Basketball Association)
Kalin was diagnosed with severe autism which slowed his brain’s development and made social contact difficult. Approximately 20 – 25% of these children have limited ability to successfully communicate and interact with others.
The doctors diagnosed Kalin with this form of autism when he was very young, and warned that he would never walk. However, in spite of this prediction, he began walking at age 4, and started speech development at age 8. Kalin’s success is also due to his mother’s diligent endeavors, who insisted that he have therapy and remain in contact with other children.
Measuring 2.08 meters tall (6’10’’) and weighing 134 kilos (300 pounds); Kalin not only has great basketball skills, but also excels in mathematics and music. He wants to encourage others with disabilities: “I want to have an impact not just on the court, but with kids that are struggling with the same things I am. I want to use this platform to inspire other kids with or without autism. I want to let them know, ‘hey if I can do this, you can do it, too’”.
Kalin aims to become a professional basketball player.