First Deaf Player in the NBA Holds Bas­ket­ball Camp for Deaf Kids

Serve Daily - - BUILDING COMMUNITY - By Adrian R. Es­calante

Lance Allred, the first deaf player in the NBA, re­cently held an in­spir­ing bas­ket­ball camp for deaf kids in Salt Lake City.

As I en­tered the San­der­son Com­mu­nity Cen­ter of the Deaf and Hard of Hear­ing, it first seemed to me that no one was com­mu­ni­cat­ing or pro­vid­ing in­struc­tions to those chil­dren. But as I paid close at­ten­tion to what was ac­tu­ally go­ing on, I saw plenty of coach­ing on the court and ob­vi­ous ex­cite­ment in those kids’ faces. Us­ing sign lan­guage and fa­cial ex­pres­sions, Lance con­tin­u­ally in­structed and mo­ti­vated those chil­dren to prac­tice their bas­ket­ball skills over and over again.

Stand­ing in the mid­dle of the court at 6 feet 11 inches, Lance stood as a gi­ant to me, not only in stature but in for­ti­tude, de­ter­mi­na­tion and per­se­ver­ance.

Since his birth, Lance had to over­come tremen­dous ob­sta­cles and health chal­lenges at first just to sur­vive and later to de­velop his bas­ket­ball skills and em­bark on a pro­fes­sional ca­reer.

Lance Allred was born in Salt Lake City but he spent his very early years grow­ing up in a Fun­da­men­tal­ist Mor­mon com­mu­nity in Mon­tana. He is a de­scen­dant of Ru­lon C. Allred, a prophet of the Apos­tolic United Brethren, a fun­da­men­tal­ist polyg­a­mous sect. How­ever, his fam­ily be­came dis­en­chanted with the group. They moved to Salt Lake City when he was 7 and com­pletely broke away from the church six years later. He did not play or­ga­nized bas­ket­ball un­til eighth grade when he joined a team in the lo­cal LDS Church league.

Lance grad­u­ated from East High School and went on to play col­lege bas­ket­ball at the Univer­sity of Utah and at We­ber State Univer­sity. His 10-year pro­fes­sional ca­reer in­cludes con­tracts with the Cleve­land Cava­liers and with many in­ter­na­tional teams. He has played on ev­ery con­ti­nent and has been team cap­tain for most of his ca­reer.

Af­ter play­ing his fi­nal sea­son in Puerto Rico ear­lier this year, Lance an­nounced his re­tire­ment from bas­ket­ball and es­tab­lish L Square Pro­duc­tions in Utah. To­day, he is a dy­namic key­note speaker and fre­quent tele­vi­sion sports an­a­lyst.

Lance is also a pub­lished au­thor. His au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, “Long­shot: The Ad­ven­tures of a Deaf Fun­da­men­tal­ist Mor­mon Kid and His Jour­ney to the NBA,” was pub­lished in 2009. He is cur­rently writ­ing two books, a 14th-cen­tury his­tor­i­cal novel and a Vic­to­rian satire.

“All my life, I was told what I couldn’t do be­cause of my hear­ing im­ped­i­ment,” says Allred. “So what did I do? I ig­nored them. I couldn’t hear them any­way.”

Lance Allred speaks to groups large and small. He can be reached through his web­site at www.LanceAllred41.com or by email at lanceallred41@gmail.com. About the au­thor Adrian R. Es­calante, MBA is a con­tribut­ing writer and pub­lished au­thor. He is the owner of Smart Media and Print in Amer­i­can Fork. His latest book, “LDS Mem­ber Guide­book: Un­der­stand­ing the Lan­guage, Cul­ture, and Or­ga­ni­za­tion of The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints (The Mor­mons),” will be in LDS book stores by fall of this year.

Lance Allred with his team of coaches.

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