Kent State Basketball Commit Becomes the First Athlete with Autism to Earn Scholarship

  • Source: The Lead
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The story of Kalin Bennett’s path to a division 1 scholarship is one that has never been traveled before. Kalin Bennett, an 18 year old from Little Rock, Arkansas, will become the first person diagnosed with autism ever to sign a division 1 scholarship, playing any sport.

During Kalin’s life, he has been faced with many adversities, especially while growing, and taking much longer than his peers to hit the key milestones. For example, Kalin sat up for the first time at the age of two. The first time he walked was at the age of four. He didn’t say his first words until he was seven years old, and never held a full conversation until he was eight.

Now, Kalin Bennett measures in at an extremely athletic 6-10”, weighing a solid 300 pounds.

Bennett is currently ranked as the 16th best high school basketball prospect in the state of Arkansas. He recently graduated high school with great grades, and is currently enrolled at Link Year Prep in Branson, Missouri. A popular strategic move made by high-level athletes before launching into traditional division 1 play.

Kent State is the specific university responsible for offering this tremendous young athlete a Division 1 scholarship. However, Kent State wasn’t the only scholarship Kalin received from division 1 programs. Bennett specifically chose Kent State over other schools because of their specific work with autism support and awareness.

The school works with the Autism Initiative for Research, Education, and Outreach (AIREO), and Partnering for Achievement and Learning Success (P.A.L.S.) programs aimed at helping young adults with autism adjust to life in college. Kent State University currently has dozens of students that have autism enrolled at the school, and is dedicated to raising awareness about autism, and supporting anyone who may be on the spectrum.

Kalin Bennett’s basketball ability is the reason he earned a scholarship, but he still wanted to make a couple things clear.

"I just want to say one thing I had offers before Kent State and before prep school but the reason Kent and others recruited me isn’t because of my Autism and don’t get me wrong it’s cool to make history but they wanted me because I CAN HOOP AND I LOVE PLAYING BASKETBALL," read his tweet.

Kalin also offered up some inspirational goals of his, saying:

"I want to make an impact not just on the court, but with kids that are struggling with the same things I am. 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 only had one requirement of Kent State before his signing, his mom is coming too. Sonja Bennett, Kalin’s mother, has been his rock for his entire life and will be joining him at Kent State to provide support.

Congrats Kalin Bennett. You are an inspiration to many, and you have earned absolutely everything great coming your way.