Kent State University and their basketball prospect Kalin Bennett are about to make history.
In November, Bennett became the first autistic student-athlete to sign a national letter of intent to play a Division 1 level NCAA team sport. According to Cleveland.com Bennett will enroll at Kent State next summer.
The 6’10”, 300-pound incoming freshman said he wants to make an impact off the court by setting a precedent for children who are dealing with autism.
“I want to use this platform to inspire other kids with autism and non-autism,” Bennett said. “I want to let them know, hey, if I can do this, you can do it, too. A lot of times they feel alone and by themselves, and I felt that same way growing up.’’
The Little Rock-bred athlete accepted Kent State’s offer to play starting next season, was diagnosed with autism as a child. He was told during the evaluation that it was unlikely he would ever speak and walk, never mind play sports and have teammates who he considers to be his best friends.
During an interview with NBC News, Bennett revealed there was a point where he almost let his diagnosis consume him.
“I used to be in the corner, like, I wouldn’t say nothing, I used to not like people at all,” he said. “I was always by myself, always alone, but now I’m always trying to figure out what I want to do better. I want to be an example for kids who feel like they can’t do anything.”
Bennett, who attends Link Year Prep in Little Rock, reportedly had offers from several other colleges but chose Kent State because of its growth initiative with autism support.