Meet This Inspirational One-Armed Basketball Sensation

He's a unique player who never gives up!



(Vasyl Shulga /

You may not know the intricacies of basketball, but it’s a sure bet you’ll be impressed by Hansel Emmanuel. A player with the Northwestern State University Demons, Hansel Emmanuel is a one-armed sensation who just scored his first in-game points with the most defining moment of a game against the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.

"I had to keep going after the layup—that was my first bucket," Emmanuel said in a quote posted on Northwestern State’s website and publicized on ESPN. "I know my family was proud. I had to keep working. You can't give up."

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Though not the first college-level player to play with a significant disability, Emmanuel is the first player to tout this specific challenge. At the age of six, Emmanuel, who was born in the Dominican Republic, had his left arm amputated above the elbow after a pile of cinder blocks fell on him. Doctors believed the damage was too severe to save the arm.

Proficient Skills

By the time he was in high school, Emmanuel had moved to Florida with his family and drew interest from several colleges for his proficient basketball skills. Emmanuel scored prolifically against opponents who presumably had use of all of their limbs, and the ensuing publicity was heightened by social media users who published videos of his skills and biggest plays, The Guardian reports.

While this was not the first game Emmanuel had played for the Demons, it was the first one in which he scored. The Demons were well on the way to their seventh straight win of the season when Emmanuel started to drive toward his first points, according to ESPN’s play-by-play. He smoothly cut to the hoop for his layup with 2 and a half minutes left in the game.

With slightly over a minute to go, Emmanuel was fouled and made the first free throw. He missed the second shot but corralled a loose ball just beyond the foul line, took one dribble, and threw a thunderous dunk for a 91-73 win over Louisiana-Monroe.

Achieving NBA Status with Disabilities
Emmanuel is part of an elite group of beloved basketball figures who have overcome both emotional and physical disabilities to play the game they love—including Earvin “Magic” Johnson who according to The Basketball Network, suffered from dyslexia as a child, which made some people doubt he would ever read or become a functioning member of society.

When Lance Allred made the NBA’s Miami Heat in 2008, it was historic, reports The Sportster. With 75-80 percent hearing loss, Allred was the first legally deaf player to ever make it to the NBA. Not only that, but Allred had also been previously diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, and had allegedly been routinely berated by coach Rick Majerus during his time at the University of Utah. Allred’s accomplishment was no fluke: the power forward/center went on to become a two-time NBA D-League All-Star (2008, 2009) and continued playing well abroad until his retirement in 2015.

Another player to play with a challenge was Gerald Green. According to The Sportster, Green began his NBA career after getting drafted 18th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft, and played with the Celtics, Timberwolves, Rockets, Mavericks, Nets, Pacers, Suns, and Heat, in addition to a couple of years abroad. Despite having 15 seasons of experience and exposure, some fans might still be shocked to find out the shooting guard/small forward did it all with only nine fingers. When he was in 6th grade, Green got a ring he was wearing caught on a makeshift basketball hoop while dunking, and it tore his finger off.

Despite his obvious challenge, the 19-year-old Emmanuel has already proven himself to fans and his teammates. As a freshman with three more seasons of college ball ahead of him, it is clear that Emmanuel has the potential to make a big splash in this game.

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