Who says you need to be tall to play basketball?
Last Tuesday, 32 year old Jahmani Swanson debuted for the Harlem Globetrotters in a match against the Washington Generals. The player, born in New York, inherited dwarfism, a condition that affects height and weight. However, this has not been an obstacle for him in becoming part of the famous exhibition team.
Born from a mother with dwarfism and an avergae height father, the "Michael Jordan of dwarf basketball" is now the shortest player in the history of the Globetrotters. Nevertheless, Swanson is no stranger to the attention he draws over himself. He was already known through his own social media and YouTube channel, where he posted videos of himself shooting form far ranges and dribbling skillfully.
From a very young age, he was introduced to basketball and his idols where Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson. In the past, Swanson played for Monroe College and the New York Towers, one of the most succesful teams of the Dwarf Athletic Association.
Jahmani Swanson is the shortest player ever in the Globetrotters history, by nearly 9 inches
His precompetitive routine includes netting at least 50 shots, as well as studying the court and his game plan before every match. When the ball is being disputed, he combines his ability with the spectacle the Globetrotters provide, which leads him to run between his opponents' legs and to climb on top of them in order to steal de ball.
As skillful as "Hot Shot" Swanson may be, troughout his life he had to face many doubts and questionings towards his abbility. "In every gym, in every city I go to, people stare at me, even some laugh and ask themselves: who is this short guy? What is he capable of doing? And when I net the first shot, or make the first dribble, they go crazy", he told AFP.
Even though Swanson is a high performance athlete, he spends his free time with children and young people, specially with those who suffer of dwarfism, for them to achieve their dreams. Part of his activism is to integrate sports into the lives of those who suffer conditions such as his. Dwarfism is the reason why this athlete had to work even "10 times harder" to compete with taller players. When starting in basketball, his mother used to inscribe him in tournaments. Fearing that he might be treated differently, she pleaded for him to be treated the same. Many years later, when walking down the streets, Swanson says he feels 2 mts tall because of the way he was raised.
Hot Shot had already tried out for the Globetrotters in 2011, but he failed to make the cut. However, during 2018 he will have the chance to tour with the team an play many of the 350 matches they have a year.
Latin American Post | Iván Parada Hernández
Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda