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ASPartOfMe
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26 Feb 2020, 12:51 am

First D-I basketball player with autism speaks at 16th Autism Extravaganza in Abilene

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Anthony Ianni is the first Division I basketball player with autism. He played on two Big 10 championship winning Michigan State basketball teams.

On Tuesday, Ianni was the keynote speaker at Region 14's 16th annual Autism Extravaganza in Abilene.

The event is held each year to educate students, teachers and families learn and understand more about autism.

Ianni first began public speaking 7-years ago, after he realized that he couldn't think of anyone other than Dr. Temple Grandin (the 2019 keynote speaker) as a role model for young people with autism to look up to.

I'm going to be that guy then," Ianni told his wife. "I'm going to go be that hero, that role model, that inspiration that those individuals and those families can go to if they ever need help, advice and guidance."

His main goal in public speaking - to stop bullying.

"I want them to see what an actual individual with autism looks like and what an actual individual with autism has gone through in life because there are some students out there that don't understand that," Ianni said. "They hear my stories of why I was bullied. There are some things that I said that were different than everybody else and they didn't understand that."

Ianni was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) when he was four years old.

"A year later, when I was five years old, a group of doctors and professionals told my parents in a private meeting that, because I have autism, that I was not gonna succeed or achieve anything in life."

He learned about that conversation at age 14.

"That kinda became my motivation to prove those doctors, individuals that I had in my life wrong," Ianni said.

From that point on, Ianni was on a mission.

He graduated high school in 2007 and spent two years at Grand Valley State University on a full basketball scholarship before transferring to Michigan State University. There, he walked-on to the men's basketball team and won two Big Ten championships playing alongside three-time NBA Champion Draymond Green.

"Not only did I graduate and get my bachelors degree in sociology from Michigan State, but I also became the first Division I basketball player in NCAA history with an autism diagnosis," he said.


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Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman


ASPartOfMe
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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
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03 Feb 2021, 6:38 am

Former D1 Basketball Player Pens Book About Playing With Autism

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Now as an alum, Anthony Ianni is a motivational speaker turned author with his book, “Centered: Autism, Basketball and One Athletes Dreams”.

Ianni’s book will be available in the Fall of 2021, you can find it for presale wherever books are sold. For more information about Anthony you can visit RelentlessTour.com.


_________________
Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman