We to often define our selves by what we don’t have. This is another lesson, which we all should learn from, of someone who makes the most of what they do have.
From a New York Times article, by Adam Himmelsbach, about Kevin Laue:
“Kevin Laue, 18, was a 6-foot-10-inch college basketball prospect from California who was born with a left arm that ended at the elbow. He had recently enrolled at Fork Union Military Academy, about 50 miles from Richmond, in hopes of being noticed by an Ivy League team, but not for the reason he was most often noticed.”
When Laue was born, his mother’s umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck, with his left arm wedged in between. The arm’s circulation was cut off, severely stunting its growth, but doctors said its position had allowed blood to reach the brain. “I think I got pretty lucky,” Laue said. “My arm saved my life.”
Laue’s parents did not coddle him. They bought him sneakers with laces and pants with buttons. They did not get him a prosthetic arm but they did sign him up for Little League, where he swung a bat like it was a polo mallet.
During awkward moments, or times when children were predictably merciless, Laue resorted to his wit.
When classmates asked why he was missing a chunk of his limb, he said it had been devoured by a shark while he was surfing off the coast of Hawaii. When his class sang “Y.M.C.A.,” he laughed because his M was missing an arch. When his mother asked him to wash his hands before dinner, he said that was not an option.
Laue said the worst part of his teen years was trying to find snowboarding shoes for his size 17 feet.
“It was a time in a kid’s life where it can be traumatic if you’ve got a pimple or the wrong haircut, and he had one hand,” Laue’s mother, Jodi, said. “But it never mattered because he was comfortable with himself.”
Laue was cut from his seventh-grade basketball team, but sprouted to 6-10 and made the varsity as a junior at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif. He could palm the ball easily with his large right hand, and he used his short left arm as a clamp after catching passes.
“It was a science to watch him play,” the former Amador Valley coach Rob Collins said. “With Kevin, you had to have vision, bro. And how could I even care if he messed up? He’s only got one hand. He’s just an amazing dude that everyone should meet once.”
“The disability does not stop Laue from running the court with a graceful stride or swatting away shots with his large right hand. When Laue catches passes on the perimeter, he holds the ball away from his head the way a water polo player readies a shot. On defense, Laue uses his nub to maintain contact with his opponent’s back, and he raises his right arm as a deterrent.
This season Laue is averaging 6.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, helping Fork Union to a 7-3 record. The Blue Devils play against other prep schools that are filled with college recruits, and they face junior varsity college teams.
Laue said he had received recruiting letters from Hamilton College and Emory University, which are in Division III, but that he still hoped to play for an Ivy League university. While Laue’s play has raised the curiosity of some Division I coaches, he has not yet been recruited by them. But Arritt says he is certain Laue will eventually receive an offer to play for a Division I team next fall.
The “Tell Your Story” page of the Amputee Coalition of America site is full of stories written by those who have lost a limb. What they did not lose was their will to succeed.