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Kalin Bennett, Arkansas Teen Diagnosed with Autism, Scores His First Points in Division I Basketball Game at Kent State

Olowokandi Fiyin
Nov 17, 2019
02:20 P.M.

Arkansas teenager Kalin Bennett has broken records as he became the first player with autism to score in a Division I game.

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At just 19 years old, Kalin Bennett has defied all the odds that life tossed at him, proving that anything is possible.

Kalin Bennett speaks onstage during the HollyRod Foundation's 21st Annual DesignCare Gala in Malibu, California | Photo: Getty Images

Kalin Bennett speaks onstage during the HollyRod Foundation's 21st Annual DesignCare Gala in Malibu, California | Photo: Getty Images

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Kalin broke the record of being the first player with autism to score in a Division I game as seen in a clip shared by ESPN on Twitter.

As revealed by Sports Illustrated, the teenager made his debut in Kent State’s game with Hiram and only entered the game with six minutes left.

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However, that didn’t stop him from proving himself as he made a left-handed hook shot two minutes thirty seconds before the final whistle.

After the game, his teammates celebrated him with cheers and screams as he rang the victory bell.

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When speaking to the Associated Press about his win, the 6’11” player said:

“For my mom to see it was really big for me. To let her know that everything you’ve done has not been in vain.”

According to WBUR, when Kalin was diagnosed with autism at nine months, his mother Sonja Bennett was told that he wasn’t going to be able to walk or talk.

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However, she wasn’t going to let the doctors determine the fate of her child and never believed a word they said. When the family moved to Little Rock, Sonja found a doctor who played a pivotal role in breaking Kalin from the shackles of his condition.

Dr Mitzi Washington helped set Kalin up with a therapist, and after several sessions, he began to improve. However, it took a lot of time before evident progress could be seen. At three years old, Kalin began to walk, and by seven, he started to talk.

Kalin Bennett attends the HollyRod Foundation's 21st Annual DesignCare Gala in Malibu, California | Photo: Getty Images

Kalin Bennett attends the HollyRod Foundation's 21st Annual DesignCare Gala in Malibu, California | Photo: Getty Images

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Even with his fragile nature, Sonja never let her son believe that there was nothing he couldn’t do.

Record Courier notes that she encouraged Kalin to enrol in a drama course at school and kept him in communications classes even after he stopped stuttering. She also told him to learn four instruments.

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According to his father Gerald Bennett, Kalin’s journey into the world of sports began at 8 when he said to his dad that he wanted to play basketball.

Luckily, Gerald took him up on his offer and helped him join an AAU team. Although it was initially a big struggle for the budding athlete, Kalin had a coach who came up with a unique way of communicating with him to help him grow.

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When asked about the impact of his victory on other kids with autism, Bennett said:

“Everybody is capable of doing whatever they want to do in life. I hope I created a thing that’s going to transcend to more kids, so they believe in themselves first and foremost.”

With this achievement under his belt, Kalin is gunning for more goals that he wants to check off his list.

Kalin Bennett attends the HollyRod Foundation's 21st Annual DesignCare Gala in Malibu, California | Photo: Getty Images

Kalin Bennett attends the HollyRod Foundation's 21st Annual DesignCare Gala in Malibu, California | Photo: Getty Images

He wants to play in the NBA and own a yacht. The 19-year-old also wants to use his life story to inspire everyone around him.

With such dreams and determination, the sky is only the starting point for Kalin.

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