This Kent State basketball player made history during team's season opener

Catherine Garcia

Kalin Bennett is ready to be a role model, on and off the court.

Bennett is a freshman at Kent State University in Ohio, and a member of the men's basketball team. He's also the first student-athlete with autism to sign a national letter of intent to play with a Division I team. He made his debut on Wednesday during the season opener against Hiram College, playing during the last six minutes of the game. He finished with two points, two rebounds, and one block.

"For my mom to see it was really big for me," he said. "To let her know that everything you've done has not been in vain." It's been a long road for Bennett — he didn't start walking until he was 4, and didn't talk until 7 — and he's ready to continue defying expectations. "It's good to know that people look up to me, but the real thing is: Everybody is capable of doing whatever they want to do in life," he said. "I hope I created a thing that's going to transcend to more kids so they believe in themselves first and foremost."

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