Message of Hope Through Hoops

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BEREA, Ohio – After the tragedy in Boston, Brian Vincent wants to give people hope.

“I would like to show injured victims that life goes on,” Vincent said. “It’s healing process, but you’re not alone in the world. There’s other people like you.”

Vincent, 35, is familiar with adversity. Part of his left leg never fully developed, and he has a prosthetic to help him function better every day.

He functions well beyond what many had hoped for.

The Kaiser, Oregon man is a member of the AMP 1 basketball team.

“To me, this is all my passion,” Vincent said. “This is my hopes and dreams. I’ve always dreamed of being a professional basketball player.”

AMP 1 formed in 2011, and Vincent is one of the original team members.

“AMP 1 basketball is the world’s first standup amputee basketball team,” Vincent said. “And we do motivational speaking all across the country, and we play a lot of charity games for people. We’re the only amputee basketball team that plays against able-bodied people in the world.”

However, when Richard Ramsey joined the team last summer, he became a first for the team. “When people say, ‘Man, how do you do everything with one arm,’ I’m like ‘How do you do everything with two arms?’ Just cause I know no different,” he said.

Ramsey, 26, was born without his lower left arm. He and Vincent are the only team members with a congenital birth defect. The other guys in AMP 1 have had lower limb amputations, caused by traumatic accidents, birth defects and cancer.

“We all had to fight for something growing up and this is a perfect way to show kids, again, who are in a like position that they need to do the same thing,” Ramsey said.

The team is touring Northeast Ohio, visiting schools and competing in charity basketball tournaments.

Wednesday night, AMP1 will go head-to-head with the senior men’s and women’s basketball players at Baldwin Wallace University. Later this week, they will visit the College of Wooster, elementary and high schools.

Chrissy Aitken is among the college students they’ve met along the way.

Aitken, 23, is a student at Cuyahoga County Community College. When she was five years old, she was in a house fire, which burned a majority of her body. She’s also had her hands and feet amputated. But that didn’t stop her from joining the guys on the court Wednesday morning.

“It was really inspiring being an amputee myself, and meeting a team of professionals that are extremely good. It gives me something to work towards,” she said.

Soon, the Parma woman will graduate from college and plans to educate students with disabilities.

She hopes her experience will inspire young people.

Vincent hopes the same for AMP 1. “To me, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s more than just basketball to us. It’s inspiring people, to show that you can still do it. It’s a process. But, it just shows her that, you know, there are other people out there like her. She’s not by herself in the world. We all overcome adversity in our lives, and it just teaches her that.”