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Kent State Welcomes First Autistic Player To Win Basketball Scholarship

No matter what stands in the way of a dream, those who believe in chasing it hard enough will refuse to let anything stop them.

But as important as the heart to pursue a dream is, taking the care to sensibly plan what that pursuit will look like is the key to making it likely to happen.

Fortunately, 18-year-old Kalin Bennett has not forgotten that step as the budding basketball star heads towards a historic achievement.

Kalin lives with autism and his therapist all but treated this like a death sentence when he was a child.

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According to the Cleveland Fair Dealer, his medical file was full of predictions that he would never walk and talk.

However, despite not being able to sit up by two-years-old, he proved both of those predictions wrong by the time he was eight.

After Kalin learned to function, everybody else learned just how gifted he really is.

Twitter | @Ktech50

He reportedly graduated from Little Rock Christian high school with good grades, but has shown particular talent in music and math.

He can play bass guitar, lead guitar, keyboards, and drums and his math skills come so naturally to him that he wondered why his teacher bothered asking him to use a calculator.

However, Kalin's biggest passion seems to be basketball and he's shown some serious potential in that too.

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Link Year Prep coach Adam Donyes described him as a "monster rebounder" and Kalin recently scored 17 points in 12 minutes against junior college students.

His skills didn't go unnoticed because several colleges were interested in making him the first autistic person to play NCAA Division I sports.

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However, Kalin knew exactly what kind of resources he would need to make that dream possible.

As impressed as he reportedly was with Kent State's coaching, the school's variety of autism support programs were the main draw for him.

While Kalin has achieved a lot on his own, it's important to acknowledge the role his mother, Sonja, played in his success.

Twitter | @Ktech50

Wherever Kalin's dreams have taken him, she followed and once drove 175 miles with one functional lung when he shut down after spending his first birthday away from her.

Yet, she still fully committed to encouraging him to become more independent as he prepares for college. She moves with him, but he lives on campus with his teammates.

Right now, that adjustment is the biggest challenge Kalin has to face.

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For any of what he has planned to happen, he has to prove that he can function on his own and meet his commitments to classes and his team.

According to his prep school teammate, Dannie Smith, Kalin can respond well to coaching, but he is known to keep asking the same question instead of resuming play when he has trouble processing something.

Despite these challenges, everyone involved seems confident that Kalin's future is bright.

Twitter | @Ktech50

While Kalin is committed to pursuing his hoop dreams and getting a degree in either math or sports administration, those certainly aren't his only ambitions.

As he put it, “I want to make 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 autism and non-autism."

Further down the line, Kalin hopes to one day start his own charity.

Twitter | @Ktech50

He said, "I want to be able to make a place where (autistic) kids can just come by, have fun, don’t feel no fear being around other people; be able to express themselves, be able to be who they are without worrying about what people think about them, or how they process stuff."