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Osei Morris:  First Black Deaf to Play for a Professional Basketball Team

By Malcolm Odoh
April 5, 2009

Osei Morris

Every since I was a young child I have enjoyed the game of basketball, when I was four years old I remember watching Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson square off in the 1991 NBA finals. When attempting to find a subject for this assignment I decided to explore one of my passions (basketball). In my research of how basketball relates to the deaf community I came across the story of 25 year old Osei Morris, he was born Hard of Hearing, yet he and his profoundly deaf twin brother Adei, proudly say they are "Deaf" and donít look for excuses based upon him being hard of hearing. He and his brother have always desired to become professional basketball players and taught themselves to play by observing the game. They both played briefly at Gallaudet College for the Deaf in Washington, D.C. fortunately for them, there was a National Deaf Basketball League they joined and further developed their talents in an environment where all the players, coaches, referees and fans were deaf.

When playing in a deaf environment communication was done by using American Sign Language. This non-profit organization was created to encourage Deaf athletes to go beyond their physical challenges in the game of Basketball. Osei Morris was the Most Valuable Player in 2004. With his innate skill for playing basketball he signed with the LA Stars of the ABA, in his interaction with the team although he can read lips and voice some, he prefers use Sign Language. Osei is the first black deaf basketball player to play for a professional team. The LA Stars provides Osei with an interpreter at practices and at games and in fact, team members have already expressed interest in learning sign language to be able to communicate with him on the court better. Osei Morris feels he can do anything but hear, and is truly grateful for this extraordinary opportunity given by the LA Stars.

The LA Stars are excited about the attempt to bridge the gap between the Deaf and Hearing Worlds by welcoming the Deaf Community as fans. Sign language has been used to create a bond in the world of basketball in variety of ways not only in the case of deaf people but through the fundamental aspects of the game such as communication between players on the court and coaches who signal plays to attack opponentís defenses. The 2/3 zone in basketball is signaled by coaches in all leagues as a defensive strategy to stop opposing offenses. For most teams the signal for the 2/3 zone is communicated through American Sign Language. Sign Language has been a staple used in basketball and will forever be linked to each other due to the fundamental aspects of the game that make communication between coaches and players easier and more effective.

Sources:

1.Bradley,James (2005) Our Sports Central (press release) - Marshfield, WI USA
fookembug.wordpress.com/2007/06/12/are-deaf-basketball-players-being-passive

2. Kent, Harris (2008) Deaf International Basketball. International Committee of Sports for the Deaf 12-14
www.dibf.org/

3.Lyndon, Bruce (2005) Deaf Today. Deaf Athletes in Sports 90-94
www.deaftoday.com/v3/2004/10/los_angeles_sta.htm


 


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