SPORTS, Grades 10–12, 3rd Place
Jamel Roberts is an extremely good basketball player. You could say that he’s just as good as most high school athletes. He has good defense, can shoot layups, the best three-pointers and jump shots.
Jamel is also deaf.
Deaf athletes are not common but they’re not unheard-of. There are Olympic swimmers and divers, pro football and hockey players, and more who have full or partial hearing loss.
Lance Allred was the first legally deaf player in NBA history. Although born with over 75 percent hearing loss, Allred played basketball at the college level in his home state of Utah and moved on to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008.
WNBA player Tamika Catchings was born with hearing impairments in both ears. She played college hoops with the Tennessee Lady Volunteers and pro ball with the Indiana Fever. “In the classroom, kids could make fun of me for being different,” she told ESPN in 2011. “On the soccer field (my first sport) and eventually the basketball court, they couldn’t. I outworked them, plain and simple. Eventually, I was better than them.”
How is Jamel Roberts so good at basketball if he can’t hear? Simple. He’s just good.
While he can’t use his ears, he can use his eyes. And he uses sign language to communicate to teammates on the court. If anything deaf people have more focus when playing sports rather than hearing people getting distracted. So being deaf does not affect the way Jamel plays.