THE ART OF PERSEVERANCE AND DILIGENCE
Written by Ajah Stallings
Throughout childhood, kids have the opportunity to play whatever sport they can dream of. Whether it be soccer, tennis, gymnastics, track, or anything else, the options were endless. For me, this was no different, I played soccer, ran the 1600-meter run in track, participated in cross country, and of course, played basketball. However, out of all the sports that I chose to participate in, none of them drew my interest quite like basketball did. The feeling of peace, excitement, and tranquility that it brought me was unmatched, and because of that I knew this was the sport I wanted to grow up playing. While this seems like your typical story of a kid finding love in a sport, my story was not that simple, and I’ll explain why.
I was born July 24, 2000 and I was a normal, healthy baby except for one thing: my right arm. During birth, the doctors ran into some complications and long story short the network of nerves in my shoulder region called the brachial plexus was ruptured. If you didn’t already know, the brachial plexus is a network of nerves that sends signals from your spinal cord to the shoulder, arm, and hand. This mishap did enough damage to completely shut off all the signals being sent to my right arm, in short: it was paralyzed. From birth to present day I have had three surgeries just on my right arm. My first was at age 3 where the doctors operated on my shoulder, then at age 7 on my elbow, and lastly, age 13 on top and bottom of my arm. All of these surgeries were in effort to give my arm strength and some range of motion, however, even now, my right arm is functioning at about 20% of what a normal arm could. For example, I cannot rotate palm up, cannot tuck it behind my back, cannot raise it above my head, cannot straighten it, cannot flatten my palm, and many other things. By far, this was the biggest obstacle that I have had to overcome in my life, but especially in sports.