WATCH: Kent State Recruit Becomes First Player With Autism To Accept D1 Scholarship. Here's His Spectacular Response.

Kalin Bennett made history when he signed his letter of intent to Kent State University to play basketball on a scholarship. Though medical professionals told Bennett's family he would likely never speak or walk, the 6'10, 300-pound center is set to become the first player with autism to compete on a Division 1 team in the NCAA's history.
Bennett, who starts at KSU this coming summer semester, says he wants to inspire others with and without autism, on and off the court.
"I want to make an impact not just on the court, but with kids that are struggling with the same things I am," Bennett told Cleveland.com. "I want to use this platform to inspire other kids with autism and non-autism. 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."
Bennett grew up in a small community in Little Rock, Arkansas, surrounded by a vital support system, including his Christian mother Sonja Bennett, whom the basketball standout profusely praised for her love and encouragement.
"I have a great support system," said Bennett, noting that not all other kids are so fortunate. "I have a real strong, Christian faith-believing mother. I didn't talk until I was seven years old, but she just kept pushing and pushing. She just kept bringing me closer to other people, and made me a better person -- her and my dad, very hard working people, still 'till this day."
According to Cleveland.com, "Bennett did not sit up until he was 2. He did not walk until he was 4. He did not talk until he was 7 and did not hold a conversation until he was 8."
In the future, Bennett said he'd like to start an inclusive camp-like charity for children with autism.
"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," said the athlete.
"We are all human, we all feel love, we all feel compassion, and this is just another step forward with it," he added.
Sonja relayed a telling story to Cleaveland.com about her son and a former therapist of his who once believed Bennett would never be able to speak, sit up, or walk:
"Kalin told me, 'Momma, I want to talk to her,'" Sonja Bennett recalled.
Kalin had read his medical file and knew what medical professionals had predicted for him.
"I don't know if you have ever been around an autistic child, but they are brutally honest. They want to know,’" Sonja Bennett said. "They are not being defiant. They are not trying to be nasty. But they can have hard questions that they want you to answer. I showed him his (medical) file. I wanted him to read this book of files so he would know how he needs to always keep fighting."
"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."

Now Bennett is off to live in Ohio, where he can be closer to his teammates. And his mother will be joining him — Bennett told his coaches that condition was a deal-breaker.
"I talked to (Kent State) coach (Rob Senderoff), and I was like, unless my mom comes, I ain't comin'," said the 18-year-old. "The separation anxiety really doesn't upset me no more. But at the same time, I still like that support. Even when I have the best day of my life, I still want to make sure I see my mom's face."
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WATCH: Kent State Recruit Becomes First Player With Autism To Accept D1 Scholarship. Here's His Spectacular Response. WATCH: Kent State Recruit Becomes First Player With Autism To Accept D1 Scholarship. Here's His Spectacular Response. Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 02:12 Rating: 5

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