NORWALK, Cali. (WLNS) – Kade West, a deaf, autistic basketball player at Cerritos College in southern California is making new strides in life, all while becoming an inspiration to his coach and his team.
He can dribble, shoot and score.
Just about the only thing 20-year-old Cerritos College basketball player Kade West can’t do is hear.
“I want to be in the NBA, so I practice every day to improve, I want to be ready,” said West.
Kade is both autistic and deaf, so he always has sign language interpreters at practice and at games.
“He taught me a lot of patience because being able to slow down and communicate things,” said coach Russ May.
After working with Kade consistently since 2021 at a basketball class May taught at the school,
the coach decided to add him to the roster for the 2022 season.
“From that moment on he kind of walked in our gym and could not get enough basketball,” said May.
However, Kade needed an eligibility waiver from CA Community College Athletic Association because his special needs prevented him from completing the necessary academic credits to play.
“Every 10-15 minutes, I’d take a look at coach and I’d hope that he’d call on me to play,” said West.
But toward the end of the season, with his waiver status not yet processed, Cerritos was dominating Porterville by 20 points and there was a 1:39 left, coach May made his decision.
“I just said, gosh, I gotta reward this dedication, and so I put him in,” said May.
Kade checked in and drove to the hoop for his first collegiate-level shot attempt.
“I was really shocked to play actually, I didn’t expect to play and I just felt really happy,” he said.
Unfortunately, because of the rule violation, they suspended coach May for a game and the team had to forfeit that victory, affecting their playoff seeding.
“I was sad for the team and I blamed myself, I was sad and hurt,” said West.
Eventually, Kade was eligible to play in a couple of games and boy, did his teammates love it every time he got the ball.
“It makes me feel good, like I’m a peer, they support me, a deaf person, it makes me feel happy I really love it,” said West.