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Tom Wyrwich covers High School Sports for The Seattle Times.

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December 31, 2008 12:10 PM

Athlete plays prep basketball with one hand

Posted by Joshua Mayers

I saw this story in The New York Times. It tells the story of Kevin Laue, a 6-foot-10 teenager at Fork Union Military Academy, who was born with his left arm cut off at the elbow.

Here's the paragraph that explains his disability: "When Laue was born, his mother's umbilical cord was wrapped twice around his neck, with his left arm wedged in between. The arm's circulation was cut off, severely stunting its growth, but doctors said its position had allowed blood to reach the brain. 'I think I got pretty lucky,' Laue said. 'My arm saved my life.'"

Laue, 18, was cut from his seventh-grade basketball team but made varsity in high school as a junior after growing to nearly seven feet tall. He can palm the basketball with his right hand and uses his left for control when needed. Laue broke his leg as a senior and missed his final season of high school.

Instead of picking a college, Laue decided to enroll in the military academy so he could play another year of basketball. He hopes to get noticed by an Ivy League program.

Here's my favorite segment from the story:

Laue's parents did not coddle him. They bought him sneakers with laces and pants with buttons. They did not get him a prosthetic arm but they did sign him up for Little League, where he swung a bat like it was a polo mallet.


During awkward moments, or times when children were predictably merciless, Laue resorted to his wit.

When classmates asked why he was missing a chunk of his limb, he said it had been devoured by a shark while he was surfing off the coast of Hawaii. When his class sang "Y.M.C.A.," he laughed because his M was missing an arch. When his mother asked him to wash his hands before dinner, he said that was not an option.

Laue said the worst part of his teen years was trying to find snowboarding shoes for his size 17 feet.

"It was a time in a kid's life where it can be traumatic if you've got a pimple or the wrong haircut, and he had one hand," Laue's mother, Jodi, said. "But it never mattered because he was comfortable with himself."

Recruiting analysts says he'd be a sure-fire college player with two hands, but having one severely limits his options. He has received interest from Division III schools Hamilton College and Emory University.

This season Laue is averaging 6.9 points and 7.4 rebounds for the 7-3 Fork Union team.

Here's a YouTube video of a local TV feature on Laue a couple years ago. It lets you see him in action.

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