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Midvale Journal

Former Ute, NBA star talks to students about perseverance

Jun 02, 2023 11:50AM ● By Julie Slama

Former East High, Weber State University and University of Utah player Lance Allred broke barriers when he became the first legally deaf player to play in the NBA on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He recently spoke to East Midvale Elementary fourth- and fifth-graders about his journey as a longshot. 

“He talked to our students about personal perseverance, accountability and about following your passion,” said Shelley McCall, East Midvale community schools facilitator. “He told the kids that he just loved to play basketball and a lot of people said to him, ‘You can’t play basketball because you’re deaf.’ He didn’t take that as a barrier. He used to sleep with his alarm clock on his chest and got up at five every morning because it was his passion.”

McCall related that Allred learned how to communicate on the court through reading body language.

“He does wear a hearing aid but when he’s on the court and there’s all that ambient noise, he couldn’t hear really well, so he’d read lips,” she said, adding that he would get a technical from a ref because they thought he had an attitude when in fact, he couldn’t hear them. “He learned to say, ‘OK, sorry about that’ and let it go.”

After playing professionally in France and Spain, Allred was 27 when he signed in the NBA. 

“He wove that into the idea of persevering, and he talked to our kids about picking themselves up and keep going to find something you’re passionate about. He told them to take accountability for your actions and to learn from every mistake. He talked about failure and told them failure is just an opportunity to learn. It was applicable for our kids because life is hard and they need to figure out how to build resilience, take ownership, acceptance, managing yourself and all those skills,” McCall said.

Allred took questions from the students, including if he had ever played with LeBron James. 

“When he said, ‘Yeah, he was one of my teammates,’ the room went nuts.”  λ