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Sunday, November 1, 2009


6'11' one-armed basketball player has a killer dunk

6'11' one-armed hoopster Kevin Laue aims to inspire, motivate far beyond Manhattan College campus

Oren Yaniv


Sunday, November 1st 2009, 4:00 AM


Kevin Laue dunking the ball in practice.  Pokress for News  Kevin Laue dunking the ball in practice. Kevin Laue was born with a partial left arm and plays basketball for Manhattan College.

Pokress for NewsKevin Laue was born with a partial left arm and plays basketball for Manhattan College.

Manhattan College basketball player Kevin Laue has a killer one-handed dunk.

And he couldn't have it any other way.

The freshman center - at 6'11", he's the tallest player on the team - was born without a left arm below his elbow. He overcame his disability, and the rejection of all but one coach, to earn a Division I basketball scholarship.

"I'm having the time of my life," said the 19-year-old Laue.

"I can't wait for the first game," he said before a recent practice at the college's Riverdale campus, where the Jaspers are getting ready to tip off the season in two weeks.

Laue catches and rebounds using his stunted arm for support, then grabs the ball with his oversized palm to pass or shoot.

"He has to overcompensate with heart and hustle for the things that he lacks," said Manhattan coach Barry Rohrssen.

Laue was born with a tangled umbilical cord that lashed his left arm to his neck, constricting development.

But while his arm never grew, the rest of his body sure did.

Towering above his peers, Laue took up basketball in eighth grade and became a star at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif.

"It's a two-handed sport, so it was challenging at first," Laue said matter-of-factly.

His game steadily improved, but he broke his leg senior year, all-but-evaporating his chances of a college scholarship. Still determined, he enrolled in Virginia's Fork Union Military Academy the next year.

"He has basketball ability," said Fork Union coach Fletcher Arritt. "Plus, he offered something else - he's inspirational."

Still, the year ended without any Division I offers.

"You get scared," recalled Laue, who was told that powerhouses like UCLA or Kansas would have pursued him if he had two hands. "Nobody stepped up."

Enter coach Rohrssen.

Plenty of other kids get opportunities despite low grades, poor sportsmanship or trouble-making off the court, Rohrssen said.

"Kevin did things the right way, and he deserves a chance."

Rohrssen, a Brooklyn native who is starting his fourth year as head coach, took a risk and spent a precious scholarship on a one-handed hoopster.

The criticism was swift and cruel. He was told he was committing career suicide and mocked for being unable to find any athletes with two hands. Some remarks were "callous and ruthless," Rohrssen said.

A confident Laue offered a different take. "I was more of a steal as a recruit," he said. "I think he saw that."

The often-smiling redhead betrayed a hint of resentment toward those who focused on his stunted arm and failed to give him a shot.

"It definitely makes you want to prove them wrong," he said. "Try harder."

The Manhattan Jaspers, who finished fourth last year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, start the season Nov. 14.

As a freshman, Laue "will have to earn his minutes" on the court, Rohrssen said.

Having fulfilled his goal, Laue is already earning so much.

He's been getting countless messages, many from people with similar conditions who use his story to motivate themselves.

Playing in high-profile New York, he embraces the opportunity to get the message out. "It goes hand-in-hand with inspiring them, hearing their stories, helping each other out," Laue said.


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