KENT, Ohio – There was an electricity in the air for the Kent State University basketball team’s season opener.
History was being made as freshman Kalin Bennett, a basketball player with autism, made his debut Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-10 forward is the first person with autism to sign a national letter of intent with a Division I school.
His mother, Sonya Bennett, watched him play from center court. She says Bennett was told he would never walk or talk, yet he defied the odds.
“Today was like ‘ahhh!’ Just a beautiful day that we have prayed for,” she said. “It was beautiful, just beautiful. It just lets me know that all the hard work and everything, the crying and crawling sometimes, to get to this point was all worth it.”
With five minutes left in the game, Bennett went in. He was smiling ear to ear as he made a rebound and his first basket in a collegiate game while surrounded by his coach, his teammates, his mom and the entire Kent State community.
“This game was a lot of fun,” Bennett said. “Being able to display all the hard work we put in from when we first got here to now. And for my mom to see it – it was really big for me to let her know that everything she did was not in vain.”