CHICAGO (CNN) — A seventh-grader became a social media phenomenon after University of Illinois introduced him to the world during a televised game.
The three-pointer he shot made more impressive by the odds he had to overcome to get there.
Jojo Hayes has loved basketball for as long as he can remember.
“When I was little, probably six or seven, I started playing and I literally loved it, so I just kept doing what I did and didn’t let it stop me,” says Hayes.
While his skills on the court are nothing new to his classmates —
His deep three at the game has allowed more than 200,000 people across social media to see his abilities.
Hayes lost both of his legs after contracting meningitis at age one.
A procedure the doctors didn’t think he would survive.
One that hasn’t stopped him from sharing his charismatic personality with everyone he encounters.
“Every now and then you get one of those students that is so special that you get to be a small part of their life,” says Daneille Gray, School Counselor.
A life that sees no limitations despite the challenges that have been given to him.
“I can use my hands. I don’t have legs, but I still don’t let that stop me, so I’m guessing that basketball is really the sport for me,” says Hayes.
Gray states that Hayes does have a lot of challenges, but his attitude doesn’t let that get in the way. “He can encourage other kids who have similar disabilities and just let them know a lot of it is your attitude,” says Gray.
No matter where life takes hayes, he will be open to embrace any challenge.
And if the University of Illinois gives him another opportunity to play at half-time. He’ll be ready.
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