kevinlaue2.jpgThink you have problems? Life has dealt you a bad hand? Can’t be done? It just isn’t fair?

I don’t want to hear about it. Think you can, think you can’t, you’re right.

If you think I’m just blowing you a bunch of positive-thinking smoke, that the real world is a lot tougher, let me refer you to the case of Kevin Laue.

Who is he? Kevin Laue is a young man who just earned a Division I basketball scholarship. But then thousands of student-athletes do that every year. What makes Laue’s case worthy of mention is that his left arms ends at the elbow. When he was born, circulation in his arm was cut off by the umbilical cord (see article below).

An effective shot blocker, Laue can easily palm the ball with his right hand. While he ”welcomes the chance to inspire…the ultimate compliment comes when he makes someone forget he is unlike the others.” The power of Laue’s story is all the greater because he is not unique; his circumstances call to mind Jim Abbott, the major league pitcher who played 10 seasons sans a right hand.

Over and over, we are reminded that while some of life is what happens to us, infinitely more is what we make of it. Stumbling block or stepping stone? The choice confronts us daily.


Kevin Laue, One-Handed Player, Earns Division I Basketball Scholarship
The New York Times
Published: May 25, 2009

Photo credit: Andrew Shurtleff for The New York Times

Photo caption: When Kevin Laue was born, the circulation to his left arm was cut off by the umbilical cord, stunting its growth.

Kevin Laue, a 6-foot-10 center whose left arm ends at the elbow, was often told he would be an N.C.A.A. Division I basketball recruit if he had two hands.

It turns out the second hand was not necessary. Laue, who is from California, has accepted a scholarship to play for Manhattan College next season.

“For all the right reasons, Kevin deserves this chance,” Manhattan Coach Barry Rohrssen said in a telephone interview. “He’s someone who won’t take this for granted.”

When Laue was born, the circulation to his left arm was cut off by the umbilical cord, stunting its growth. But the rest of his body grew quickly.

He made the varsity as a 6-10 junior at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif. After breaking his leg as a senior and failing to receive a Division I scholarship offer, Laue enrolled in Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy’s postgraduate program.

“He was too good of a player not to get a chance at a college scholarship,” said Fork Union Coach Fletcher Arritt, who has sent more than 150 players to Division I programs. “Kevin has adjusted to having one hand, whether it’s tying a shoe or doing a figure 8 in basketball.”

Laue, 19, can palm the ball easily with his right hand, and he is an effective shot blocker. He uses his short left arm to pin passes against his right hand.

After Laue was featured in The New York Times last December, Brother Thomas Scanlan, Manhattan’s president, took the article to Rohrssen and asked him to consider recruiting Laue.

Rohrssen said he thought of the former pitcher Jim Abbott, who played 10 seasons in the major leagues despite having no right hand.

“Years later, here I was in a position to help someone achieve their goal of getting a college scholarship and realize their dreams of playing Division I basketball,” Rohrssen said. “In some way, in doing this, it gives Kevin the opportunity to inspire many others.”

Since December, Laue said he had been contacted by about 100 people with similar disabilities. Some had lost limbs; others were born without them. One couple’s newborn daughter has a condition similar to Laue’s, and her parents told Laue he was a source of hope.

“Now that I’m going into a bigger pond, hopefully I can really touch some people,” Laue said. “If I can help anybody, that’s so great. But I also want to focus on playing ball.”

Manhattan went 16-14 last season, and two of its top four rebounders were seniors. Laue is the tallest player on the Jaspers’ current roster, and he said he expected to compete for playing time as a freshman.

Laue welcomes the chance to inspire, but when he is on the court, the ultimate compliment comes when he makes someone forget he is unlike the others.