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A college basketball player with autism made history in his first game

Kalin Bennett scored in a Division 1 game
Posted at 12:33 PM, Nov 07, 2019

KENT, Ohio — The crowd went nuts, the cheers were loud and the team is up by what might as well be a million points.

But Kent State University's game on Wednesday was not about any of that — it was about history in the making.

"I’m just one person,” said Kalin Bennett.

The humble powerhouse is a freshmen on Kent State’s basketball team.

"It’s good to know that people look up to me, but the real thing is, everybody is capable of doing whatever they want to do in life,” Bennett said.

Bennett is the first person with autism to sign on with a Division 1 sports program — and he’s the first to ever suit up and score in a Division 1 game.

"A lot of kids dream of getting their first college bucket so for it to go in for me, I was really happy,” he said.

Although right now he’s working on getting better and earning more minutes, he realizes his success is so important to so many people.

"From now on everything I do, everything step I take, I have to make sure it's with order and it's with resolve,” Bennett said.

There’s one person who wants to make sure all of his dreams come true — Bennett's mom, Sonja Bennett.

"He never doubted himself. He knew he was going to do it and so all I had to do was support the dream,” she said.

She’s committed to his success both on and off the court. She moved all the way to Kent, Ohio, from Arkansas to support him. She lives in town while her son stays in the dorms.

"My son told me that I was going. He said, 'I can’t do this without you' and so if he’s calls, I’m coming, that’s just it,” she said.

The mother says she’s so grateful for all the doors basketball opened for him.

"Basketball gave him the tools to be social, basketball gave him friends when he was alone, basketball gave him the skills to know that he could do anything he wants to. As he says with this little orange ball, 'it can take me wherever I want to go,' ” she said.

Her son is hoping it does the same for many more.

"Hopefully I create a thing where it's going to transcend to more kids, that they believe in themselves first and foremost,” he said.

This story was originally published by Amanda VanAllen on WEWS.