While other parents stared at his son Jordan’s arm, his father Jarlath Lee didn’t see disability. Instead all he saw was possibility.
“The doctors couldn’t say with 100% certainty what caused the condition but basically his arm didn’t grow beyond the elbow joint,” Jarlath explained yesterday.
“But we never took the approach of ‘you can’t do this, or you can’t do that’. Instead, from a young age, I always told him that he could achieve anything.”
And 14 years later, that mantra has propelled young Jordan amongst the best of the best in Irish basketball, with selection onto a national U15 development squad.
It has been a whirlwind three weeks for the teenager, who like his dad before him, plies his trade with St Paul’s in Killarney.
First came a place on the South West squad — “a phenomenal achievement in itself” his dad explains — before catching the eye of coaches at the national trials in Galway.
Almost 200 eager youngsters turned up to showcase their talents and Lee was one of the 37 who progressed to the next stage in the bid to make the squad for next year’s European championships.
“Jordan is absolutely loving it,” Jarlath said: “The confidence from something like this is unimaginable. We are all so delighted for him because of the effort and the commitment he puts in.”
Lee calls his son “a natural” basketball player: “He was nearly always coming to my training sessions when he was very, very young and got into it from there. He would have probably started receiving proper coaching around the age of five or six but from then it was obvious that he was a natural, his commitment is huge and he enjoys the game so much.”
But what of his arm, how much of a hindrance was that growing up?
“Being without a left hand isn’t insurmountable in basketball. You do need a left hand for left hand dribble, cross over or left hand lay-up. They would be the main things, but you can just adapt. In terms of shooting, the left hand is very much a guide, and he uses his elbow in that regard. All the shooting work is done by the right hand.
“And he has adapted and now his shot is one of the best in the country, he scores at such a high rate.”
As for the future, Lee has no idea but YouTube clips of Kevin Laue and Zach Hodskins, one-handed players on the US College scene, will surely drive the dreams that bigger and better targets and ambitions are not beyond him.
And what of the name Jordan? Was it a nod to you know who?
“Maybe a little bit,” his dad laughed.
“It was always a name we liked but the basketball connection was a factor.”
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