Special Olympic athlete hopes to inspire

Brandon Schmit plans to use his success to inspire other disabled athletes.

Posted: May 15, 2019 7:45 PM

Eugene, OR -- Nothing stops Brandon Schmit from being the first one in the gym.

“Basketball has always been a passion of mine,” Schmit said. 

Schmit was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at birth. It affects his movement and muscle coordination, making it hard to move the right side of his body.

“I couldn’t tie my own shoe," Schmit said. "It’s very difficult to deal with.”

After five surgeries and lots of practice Schmit ties his shoes no problem. He also can hit a 30-foot jump shot.

"I'm more of a jump shooter," Schmit said.

Schmit loves basketball. He shoots, dribbles, and plays with one hand. He makes pickup games against non-disabled athletes look easy. 

“He’s always amazed me because of what he can do despite the fact he mainly uses one arm," pick-up player Johnathan Brandt said. "He can shoot the ball from long distance and it just swishes and makes that wonderful sound.” 

There was a time when Schmit thought he’d never play again, after getting cut from his high school team.

“They basically told me I couldn’t play because I was one-handed," Schmit said.

Instead of calling it quits, Schmit kept practicing. That’s when the Special Olympics and University of Oregon Unified Basketball became a possibility.

Sean Graninger “I remember the first time he played in our unified leagues in 2018 he showed I was like ‘alright this guy can ball a little bit,’" Coordinator for Intramural Sports and Youth Camps at the University of Oregon Sean Graninger said. "I think he told me later on that in the first game he dropped 45. So I was like ‘alright, he’s a little better than I thought.’”

After helping raise approximately $12,500 for the trip, Schmit led his team of Special Olympic and non-disabled athletes to the NIRSA Basketball National Championships in Wichita, Kansas, for the first time ever.

He was selected as an All-American.

“I’ve just become extremely diligent on practicing," Schmit said. "It stems from always being told I wasn’t good enough.

Aside from all the accolades, Schmit hopes to inspire other disabled athletes to follow their dreams.

“Basketball has opened doors giving me a platform for other people with Cerebral Palsy or even other Special Olympic athletes that they can do things,” Schmit said. 

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