Kalen is Ballin

When growing up, most of the young boys where I lived, loved playing basketball on the court of Resurrection’s Church. If you ask me, I think they all dreamed of being drafted into the NBA (National Basketball Association). I know my brothers did!

Boys and girls who love and play any sport work hard to become the best at their craft. As I said in blog posts before, just because one may have a disability, doesn’t lessen their desire to do things, including playing sports.

What are the odds of a young man with autism being signed to play NCAA Division I basketball? The odds are great if you’re Kalen Bennett! Kalen is the first ever to accomplish this goal. He will attend Kent State next summer and play on their basketball team.

Kalen is 6”10 and 300 pounds and breaking stereotypes of what some believe autism should look like. Autism, like other disabilities, presents its differences but did you know differences are beautiful? To witness the accomplishments of one who has been given a grim report by medical professionals is truly a blessing. By the way, this is same report doctors gave my parents and many of my friend’s parents with children with disabilities. I’m happy to say, most of their reports, were wrong including Kalen’s.

Kalen, who says, “I want to make an impact not just on the court, but with kids that are struggling with the same things I am”.  He will be moving from Little Rock, Arkansas to Ohio in the summer. Kalen was recruited by many other top colleges, but he chose Kent because of the wonderful program they offer supporting students with autism.  And although Kalen will be living in the dorms experiencing independent living, his mother, Sonja, will be moving to Ohio as well. Sonja, who knows Kalen the best, knows without her emotional support during her son’s journey, it will be hard for him to adapt. Hopefully, when Kalen finds his way, he’ll become more confident and will not have to depend on her so much. Until that time comes, she has his back.


Kalen has a dream of being drafted to the NBA. Some might think this is an impossible dream, but I say watch out NBA, Kalen has already defeated all odds. I believe he’s going to do it again. Ball on Kalen Ball!

6 comments on “Kalen is Ballin

  1. Mike Koesters on

    Loved the article and video about Kalen, Shari. Thanks for sharing with us. Very inspirational. I’m going to be on the lookout for him as he plays his college career here in the Buckeye state

  2. Melissa on

    Shari, THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing Kalin’s story. I’ve shared it with my sis now. So much is resonating with me; this wonderful young man and his uber-supportive famlly. Particularly this quote:

    “So, when he read it, and then met the therapist, he said; ‘Are you the one who said I would never do this and never do that?’ She said, ‘Yes Kalin, I am.’ He said, ‘My question is, I hope you haven’t told anybody else that because you could ruin their lives.’ She sat right there and took it from Kalin. She did.”

    Because the “doctor” at Children’s who diagnosed my nephew said the same thing. And we can’t wait to shove it in her face someday about how wrong she is.

    • Shari Cooper on

      Thanks for your comment and continued support of the blog. I love it when a person beats the odds of an doctor’s diagnoses. No one never truly knows a person’s potential. I can’t wait to see all the great things your nephew will accomplish. I’m sure I will blog about him one day!

  3. Preston Mack on

    Shari, what a great story. This shows what faith and wonderful human spirit can achieve in spite of the challenges of life.


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