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One-armed basketball star Zach Hodskins offered walk-on spot at Florida

Zach-HodskinsZach Hodskins has one of the smoothest basketball strokes you will ever see. But it’s not his incredibly accurate shot that has heads turning across the nation. It’s the fact that Hodskins can shoot like that with only one arm.

Earlier this month, the University of Florida and head coach Billy Donovan offered Hodskins a spot on the team as a walk-on. The offer would guarantee him a spot on the bench beginning in 2014 without a full scholarship. Hodskins has yet to decide if we will attend Florida.

“When I’m out [on the court], I forget my arm isn’t there and just play ball,” Hodskins told the News-Herald of Northern Ohio. “Passion and love for the sport helps me overcome all obstacles. To this day I haven’t come across anything I can’t do.”

Hodskins has played high school and AAU ball over the past several years and scouts who have watched him play say he has incredible fundamentals and a “deadly” jump shot. Marcus Gibbs, Hodskins’ AAU coach for the Tennessee Playmakers, said Hodskins is an inspiration both on and off the court.

“He is a role model to any aspiring basketball player that no matter the odds if you work harder than everybody else the sky is the limit,” Gibbs told Prep Rally back in December. “There is nothing that this kid cannot do and if there is he will definitely work to eliminate that problem!”

The University of Alabama-Birmingham and Birmingham Southern have both reportedly been considering offering Hodskins a scholarship. While Hodskins’ story is heartwarming and inspirational, this isn’t a matter of a kid who has faced obstacles being allowed to score by an opponent. He can flat out ball.

Young Ohio State fan beats cancer he named ‘Michigan’

Grant-Reed-Urban-MeyerA 12-year-old cancer patient who is a die-hard Ohio State fan came up with a unique way to motivate himself to fight the disease he was diagnosed with two years ago. Grant Reed named his brain tumor “Michigan.”

On Friday, Grant beat Michigan by undergoing his final chemotherapy treatment at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

According to NBC 4, Grant’s parents Troy and Denise met when they were both members of the Ohio State University Marching Band in college. Their love for the Buckeyes and hatred for the Wolverines rubbed off on their children, and the rivalry was used to help Grant battle cancer. When asked if he was proud to have beaten Michigan, Grant gave a classic response.

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Boston Bruins gave fan free tickets for life when she could no longer afford them

Bruins-flagThe prices of Boston Bruins tickets have increased rapidly over the past decade, in part because of basic inflation but also because of the recent success of the team. As a result, fans who could attend games during the early part of the century can no longer afford the cost that comes along with venturing to the TD Garden to cheer on their team.

One fan, 77-year-old Marge Bishop fro Gloucester, Mass., has been going to Bruins home games since the 1960s. According to the Boston Globe, Bishop contemplated giving up her seats in 2004 when the price went from $73 per game to $90. However, she received a personal call from Charlie Jacobs, the son of Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, asking her to join the season-ticket advisory board. After the renewal window had closed, Jacobs made sure her tickets were not released to the public. She ended up changing her mind.

But Bishop, who is know by name around the rink because she gives chocolates to the Zamboni drivers between periods, faced the same issue in 2006 — this time on a larger scale. Her seats went from $90 per game to $150 per game, and at that point she knew there was no way she could afford the increase in price. Jacobs saved the day again.

Bishop said Jacobs invited her to a backstage tour of the TD Garden, where her showed her a plastic Patriots VIP pass that he carries around with his name on it.

“He could go to any (Patriots) game he wanted at any time,” Bishop said. “At first I didn’t know why he was showing me it.”

Jacobs then gave Bishop a similar card, but one that was good for all Bruins games.

“It was the most unbelievable gesture,” she said. “People just don’t do things like that. … I’m just a regular person. And I’ve been given this remarkable once-in-a-lifetime gift. It’s incredible. It’s the most remarkable story.”

Since that day, she has never missed a game. Bishop usually brings her husband, but he begins work at his construction job at 5 a.m. and is sometimes too tired to attend. When that happens, she asks anyone from her physician to a random supermarket cashier named Maria to join her at the Garden.

“Her name was Maria,” Bishop said. “She saw I was wearing a Bruins pin and she said, ‘Oh, I love the Bruins!’ So I asked if she wanted to join me.”

And for the record, it was Bishop’s decision to go public with the story so you can’t call it a PR stunt. Bravo, Charlie Jacobs. Maybe there is such a thing as ownership loyalty.

Story of Ricochet the surfing dog is pretty awesome (Video)

If you are a pet/dog lover, this video will make you melt.

The story of Ricochet the surfing dog was featured on SportsCenter on Sunday night. Ricochet is a female golden retriever born into the “Puppy Prodigies Neo-natal & early-learning program” with the intention of becoming a service dog for a person with a disability. Early in life, she could help pull down zippers on a person’s jacket, pull a laundry basket, and do much more. But at 16 weeks, Ricochet stopped responding to the training and didn’t want to do more. One video says she was dropped from the program because of her instinctual fascination with chasing birds. However, Ricochet and her trainer finally found something she could do well — help people surf.

They began setting up fund raisers where Ricochet helped people surf by standing towards the back or on the sides and balancing the surf board. Her first fundraiser was with a quadriplegic named Patrick Ivison, and she helped raise $10,000 for him.

In the SportsCenter feature video, Ricochet can be seen helping three people with disabilities surf: Ivison, a young boy with brain damage from a fatal car crash, and a boy with autism.

Below you can watch a 2009 video of Ricochet that has amassed over four million views on YouTube:

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Kayla Wheeler is a swimming phenom despite having no legs, one arm

KPTV – FOX 12

Kayla WheelerKayla Wheeler is proving that no disability should stand in someone’s way.

Wheeler is a 16-year-old swimming phenomenon despite being born without legs and one arm. The junior at Mountlake Terrace (Wash.) High School is a Paralympic world record holder in the 50 meter butterfly and has competed around the world. She even qualified for the 2012 London Paralympic Games, but she did not go because there was not enough competition, KCPQ reports.

“I didn’t get to make the team because there were no female events for my classification, which is an S1. That’s the most disabled you could be and still swim,” Kayla told KCPQ.

Wheeler got started with swimming at an early age after a doctor recommended lessons as a form of therapy. She hasn’t stopped since.

“Just when you think she can`t do any better, she does it again,” her mother, Joyce Wheeler, told KCPQ.

Wheeler is gearing up for a competition at the International Paralympic World Championships in Montreal this August.

In addition to her swimming prowess, Wheeler also excels in school.

According to KCPQ, Wheeler is on her school’s robotics team, takes advanced classes at a local community college, and was named a Scholastic All-American.

Wheeler is no stranger to media coverage. In 2010, KCPQ did a story on the young lady when she was in eighth grade (video below). Wheeler explained in that interview why swimming is so great for her.

“It makes me feel free because I don’t necessarily have all the limitations that I do out of the water,” Wheeler said at the time. “I can do flips in the water. I can do cartwheels in the water. Things that kind of defy gravity.”

The video also showed her participating in bowling, ballet, and baseball. She even was taking ski lessons, and called skiing the “most awesome sport ever, except for swimming.”

Wheeler’s overall attitude is an inspiration to all of us.

“I don’t really try to feel sad about my life kind of thing. I just try to find other ways to make it better than it already is.”

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Matt Kemp gives his hat, jersey, cleats and autographed ball to cancer-stricken fan (Video)

Matt-Kemp-gives-jersey-to-fanThe Los Angeles Dodgers visited AT&T Park for a series against the San Francisco Giants over the weekend, and Matt Kemp made the most of his cross-state trip. The All-Star outfielder went 4-for-14 at the plate with two RBI and two runs scored, but what we’re talking about has nothing to do with baseball.

As you can see from the video that Vin Scully is My Homeboy passed along (via Hardball Talk), Kemp approached disabled fan Joshua Jones after the game was over and showered him with gifts. He autographed a baseball and gave it to the young man before taking off his hat, jersey and cleats and handing them all to the fan. The YouTube video was posted by one Jones’ best friend, who described Kemp as a “great person.”

Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach deserves credit as well. Wallach talked with the boy’s father before the game and alerted Kemp about him. Kemp kept the boy in mind when the game ended.

Jones, who was wearing a Dodgers hooded sweatshirt, has cancer and is not expected to live much longer. He also is unable to speak.

What makes a moment like this so special is that Kemp was not doing it because ESPN cameras were rolling and he wanted publicity. He did it to make a fan’s day. Kemp also said he wanted to do what he could to help the fan because of a bad experience he had when he was younger; he says he was snubbed for an autograph by his favorite player.

We’re sure he made the young man’s day. Class act.

Nerlens Noel brings 7-year-old leukemia patient to Kentucky Derby with him

Nerlens-Noel-Kelly-MeltonFormer Kentucky star Nerlens Noel attended the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, and he brought with him a special guest. Noel has developed a relationship with a 7-year-old boy named Kelly Melton, who is currently battling leukemia. Melton was recently released from the hospital, so Noel asked him if he would like to accompany him to the biggest horse race of the year.

“I brought Kelly with me,” Noel explained, via the Courier-Journal. “He struggles with leukemia and I’ve known him for a while. He’s been in the hospital for a while. He just got out the other day so I invited him here to come experience this with me. It’s my first and it’s his first so it’s a great opportunity for us to come out here and enjoy it.”

Noel just turned 19 last month. Despite the fact that he suffered a knee injury in February and was held out for the remainder of the Wildcats’ season, he has decided to declare for the upcoming NBA Draft. The fact that he is already helping brighten the day of people like little Kelly is a good sign that he understands what it means to be a superstar athlete.

H/T College Basketball Talk