Whatever the sport, Kevin Laue’s competition—even his teammates—always enjoyed leverage over him.
Laue was born with only one arm.
Laue grew up in Pleasanton, California and exhibited an interest in sports at an early age. His supportive parents encouraged his participation in multiple sports as a child. He was naturally at a disadvantage without a left arm below the elbow.
However, he never allowed his so-called disability to extinguish his passion for the sport he loved nor distinguish him as an athlete. It merely drove him to work that much harder to level the playing field against his physically whole opponents.
Gradually, Laue showed the most promise in basketball, holding his own against the best prep high school players in the country. Laue’s determination and labor paid off when his performances caught the attention of Manhattan College head coach Barry Rohrssen.
Rohrssen offered Laue an athletic scholarship, the envy of any high school athlete hoping to continue competitive play, to play on Manhattan College’s basketball team.
Manhattan College is a NCAA Division I school located in New York City. As a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), the men’s basketball program has especially achieved success, winning six regular season titles and three conference tournament championships. Manhattan has also played in the NCAA Tournament six times, most recently in 2004.
Laue says it is his dream to play in the tournament and hopes the Jaspers can earn a bid during his time in Manhattan uniform.
This season as a freshman, Laue’s play was limited, but Rohrssen says that will soon change. The 6’ 11”, 220-pound center definitely has the size to compete. Despite his one-arm limit, his ball handling is astonishing. He can do regular push-ups and can play defense and dunk with the best of them.
Alley-oops pose the only problem for Laue, as they usually require grabbing the ball with two hands before following through the shot. Adding a little more bulk will improve his strength and conditioning, which will help him deal with extra court time.
Beyond Laue’s NCAA Tournament aspiration, he has already attained a more remarkable achievement in that he does not pity himself or use his physical condition as an excuse. He neither wonders “what if” nor does he let reality put him in a box—in a special category that limits his self-worth or lessens his accomplishments.
According to Rohrssen, it is his positive and healthy mentality that is Laue’s biggest and most exceptional strength; he possesses extraordinary character.
The last one-armed athlete to have competed successful among physically intact peers was Jim Abbott, a star left-handed pitcher for the New York Yankees during the 1990s. After meeting Abbott last summer, Laue was inspired even more to continue his dream of playing basketball and, in turn, inspire the next generation of athletes with a physical handicap to keep at their beloved sport, to never give up.
With what he has fulfilled thus far, Laue has already begun that process.
As for his on-court ambitions, they may come harder, but making sense out of the nonsensical is Laue’s specialty if his own story serves as indication.
There is a good chance he may surprise us all once again.