ISBN-10:
1684351545
ISBN-13:
9781684351541
Pub. Date:
Publisher:
Centered: Autism, Basketball, and One Athlete's Dreams

Centered: Autism, Basketball, and One Athlete's Dreams

by Anthony Ianni, Rob Keast, Tom Izzo

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Overview

"They don't know me. They don't know what I'm capable of." Diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, a form of autism, as a toddler, Anthony Ianni wasn't expected to succeed in school or participate in sports, but he had other ideas. As a child, Ianni told anybody who would listen, including head coach Tom Izzo, that he would one day play for the Michigan State Spartans.

Centered: Autism, Basketball, and One Athlete's Dreams is the firsthand account of a young man's social, academic, and athletic struggles and his determination to reach his goals. In this remarkable memoir, Ianni reflects on his experiences with both basketball and the autism spectrum. Centered, an inspirational sports story in the vein of Rudy, reveals Ianni to be unflinching in his honesty, generous in his gratitude, and gracious in his compassion.

Sports fans will root for the underdog. Parents, teachers, and coaches will gain insight into the experience of an autistic child. And everyone will triumph in the achievements of Centered.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781684351541
Publisher: Red Lightning Books
Publication date: 09/07/2021
Pages: 344
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Anthony Ianni played basketball at Michigan State University from 2009 to 2012 and was the first Division I college basketball player known to be on the autism spectrum. He now tours the country as a motivational speaker. He lives with his wife and two sons in Livonia, Michigan. Rob Keast grew up in Lapeer, Michigan. He studied journalism at Michigan State University. Rob has written for newspapers in Michigan and Illinois, and he has taught English in Tokyo, Japan. Since 2004, Rob has taught high school English in Wyandotte, Michigan. Rob has a teenage daughter.

Read an Excerpt

Kids push each other's buttons. That's a fact of childhood. Sometimes they mean to and other times they don't. Either way, this posed a real problem for me. First, I had so many buttons. There were a million ways to upset me: Have a toy I wanted. Say something I disagreed with. Refuse to play with me. Second, once the button was pushed, I wigged out. My thrashings and wailings could shake walls.
My grandparents hosted Easter every year at the farmhouse in Morenci. One tradition we had was an Easter egg hunt. My grandma wrote a specific grandchild's name on each egg—about fifteen or so for each of us. The plastic eggs contained candy, chocolates, little bouncy balls, quarters, or folded up dollar bills. Every year, my dad and my uncles took the eggs outside and hid them around the farm. Eggs went in bushes and behind trees, on my grandpa's truck's bumper, on the hood of the tractor, in the seat of the riding mower, and in the barn behind the door or on the tool shelf.
Once Dad and my uncles said the eggs were ready, we dashed out of the house with our buckets. I wanted to be the first one to finish, but I was the youngest, so I was a little slower than my cousins and less familiar with the hiding spots. Soon my cousins David and Kyle filled their buckets, and they trotted over to where I was, frantically poking around the barn.
"Ha ha! We finished and you didn't," they said, waving their buckets in my face. "We won, we won."
I began to protest and whimper, revving up for a wig-out. Tears formed. My grandpa must have flashed me a critical look that said, Why the hell are you crying?
It was just normal teasing. Kyle and David weren't trying to trigger a massive explosion, but they were about to get one. That's when my cousin Angie rescued me.
"Come on, Anthony. I'll help you find the last few." Angie was seven years older than I was, and I admired her. Everyone in the family talked about what an incredible softball player she was, and sometimes we drove across the Ohio border to watch her games.
Allison must have been relieved to have someone else play the role of big sister. Keeping me from erupting probably felt like a full-time job to her. I know my IEP says that Allison allowed me to win games in order to keep things peaceful, but that's not how I recall it. I remember her winning often at Monopoly, and whenever she did I would slap her and scream.
"Sit next to me, Anthony," Angie said, after we'd found the last of the eggs with my name on it. "We can open our eggs together."
When I was finally calm, Kyle and David tried a different button.
"Michigan is way better than Michigan State," David said, as if it were an incontrovertible fact. "Michigan State is terrible."
"No way! Michigan State is better!"
The previous football season was months ago, and the next one was a long way away. Who cared about college football?
We did.
"Then how come Michigan won last year?" David persisted.
"MSU is better than Michigan! MSU is better!"
"In your dreams."
***
One day at recess I sought out a classmate who had the same name as my sister. "Play with me, Allison," I insisted. It didn't matter that Allison already was playing with other girls.
She tried to be nice about it. "I can't play with you today, Anthony, but I'll play with you tomorrow."
The next day, I found her on the playground. "Play with me," I demanded.
"Not today."
"But you promised."
"Sorry, Anthony. I'm already playing."
Crying, I fled. I found my mom and began to wail. "She said she would play today! She said she would play today!"
Mom held me close. "Sometimes people have to change their plans," she said gently. "Things don't always happen the way people say."
"She said she would play today!"
"It's going to be OK, Anthony." She hugged me tightly.
Always the coach, Mom actually started training me to handle disruptions. There were mornings when she announced the day's schedule, knowing that later she would break it.
"After school today we'll go to the park," she promised one morning at breakfast.
"Yes!" I shouted. All day in school I anticipated the trip to the park. That afternoon I reminded Mom, "It's time to go to the park now."
"I'm sorry, Anthony, but the car doesn't have enough gas. We'll have to go another day."
"But you said!"
"I know, but the car doesn't have enough gas. Things happen. Sometimes you can plan to do something, but then there's a problem."
"We're going to the park."
Mom had me take long, slow breaths. She told me to count to ten, and she bear hugged me.
Mom ran this drill again and again—not that I knew what she was up to at the time, of course. Sticking with the sports metaphor, Mom thought of these schedule changes as "curve balls." My autism made me one of the world's worst curve ball hitters.
Champions are made in practice—that's a classic sports aphorism. Coach Mom was running practices in our kitchen, and she endured tantrum after tantrum from me. Would her drills ever pay off? Would I ever improve?

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Tom Izzo
Acknowledgments
Prologue: The Bres
1. "We Are Okemos"
2. The Diagnosis
3. That Anthony Kid
4. Talking to Nobody
5. Pushing My Buttons
6. Sports
7. Grandpa Nick
8. Hating to Lose
9. On the Banks of the Red Cedar
10. "Do Those Impressions"
11. "We Want to Tell You a Story"
12. AAU
13. #44
14. Family
15. Instant Classic
16. Committed
17. On Campus
18. The Streak
19. Sophomore Slump
20. Release
21. Getting Back Up
22. Sitting Out
23. The Jersey
24. "I'm Screwed Up"
25. The Carl Vinson and the Garden
26. The Big Ten
27. Tournaments and Awards
28. Commencing

What People are Saying About This

Allie LaForce

Everyone will benefit from reading Anthony's first-hand account of living life on the autism spectrum. They say you can never judge a book by its cover, and he is the perfect example of that. You look from the outside and he is a tall, athletic, accomplished athlete, husband and father. You assume his struggles have been minimal, which in fact could not be more inaccurate. He has, with the tireless efforts from his family and friends, overcome daily struggles to live a 'normal' life, and he continues to do so with great resiliency. His willingness to be the face of autism is brave, and this book shows you what that REALLY means.

Allie LaForce]]>

Everyone will benefit from reading Anthony's first-hand account of living life on the autism spectrum. They say you can never judge a book by its cover, and he is the perfect example of that. You look from the outside and he is a tall, athletic, accomplished athlete, husband and father. You assume his struggles have been minimal, which in fact could not be more inaccurate. He has, with the tireless efforts from his family and friends, overcome daily struggles to live a 'normal' life, and he continues to do so with great resiliency. His willingness to be the face of autism is brave, and this book shows you what that REALLY means.

Jay Bilas]]>

Anthony Ianni is such an inspirational success story, and his new book provides tremendous motivation and practical experience in how to adapt, overcome and achieve, despite the obstacles. Anthony's story provides a thoughtful and influential guide to doing your best and being your best self, no matter what.

Armani Williams

Anthony Ianni's story reminds me of my journey growing up. It was very inspirational and encouraging to know that I am not the only one. With all of the hard work and great support of family, kids like us can accomplish anything we want to do in life. Anthony's story is a great example of how to navigate difficult issues in life while being impacted by autism.

Nick Saban]]>

Centered is a captivating and uplifting story about pursuing dreams, pushing through difficult times, and reaching one's full potential. Anthony Ianni's story shows what can happen when young people and their families hold themselves to the highest standard of accountability.

Nick Saban

Centered is a captivating and uplifting story about pursuing dreams, pushing through difficult times, and reaching one's full potential. Anthony Ianni's story shows what can happen when young people and their families hold themselves to the highest standard of accountability.

Jay Bilas

Anthony Ianni is such an inspirational success story, and his new book provides tremendous motivation and practical experience in how to adapt, overcome and achieve, despite the obstacles. Anthony's story provides a thoughtful and influential guide to doing your best and being your best self, no matter what.

Temple Grandin

Anthony loved sports ever since he was a little kid and he did not let autism hold him back. He was bullied and classes were really difficult for him. He succeeded in earning his degree and playing college basketball. When he talks to students at schools, he tells them to chase every dream and to work hard.

Temple Grandin]]>

Anthony loved sports ever since he was a little kid and he did not let autism hold him back. He was bullied and classes were really difficult for him. He succeeded in earning his degree and playing college basketball. When he talks to students at schools, he tells them to chase every dream and to work hard.

Armani Williams]]>

Anthony Ianni's story reminds me of my journey growing up. It was very inspirational and encouraging to know that I am not the only one. With all of the hard work and great support of family, kids like us can accomplish anything we want to do in life. Anthony's story is a great example of how to navigate difficult issues in life of being impacted by Autism.

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