A local college athlete has been setting an example for others by overcoming his hearing impairment to pursue his dream of playing basketball. Despite facing challenges, he has demonstrated that his dreams are huge and he has all the right moves on the court.
KCAL News caught up with Kade West Monday at Cerritos College. West is autistic and deaf, so he always has sign language interpreters at practices and games.
“I want to go to the NBA,” the basketball player said.
His passion for the sport has only continued to grow over time. After working consistently since 2021 at a basketball class that his coach taught at the school, the coach decided to include him on the roster for the 2022 season.
“He taught me a lot of patience — being able to slow down and communicate things,” said Russ May, Cerritos College basketball coach.
Unfortunately, his special needs prevented him from completing the necessary academic credits to play in the California Community College Athletic Association. Despite this setback, West remained determined to play, and he waited anxiously for any news about his eligibility.
Toward the end of the season, with his status still pending, he had only a minute and thirty-nine seconds left in the game when the coach finally made the decision to put him in.
The athlete checked in and drove for his first-ever shot attempt, which got cheers from the crowd. “I didn’t expect to play, and I felt really happy,” he said.
However, the team’s victory was later forfeited due to rule violations that resulted in the coach being suspended for one game.
West did become eligible to play and his team mates were thrilled every time he got the ball. Coach May said they will have to go through the same eligibility process this season and he expects it to go smoothly this time.