BOYS BASKETBALL

Marian Catholic's Oliver dominant in the middle, doesn't let disability hamper his basketball skills

2012-12-13T18:00:00Z 2014-04-24T22:58:11Z Marian Catholic's Oliver dominant in the middle, doesn't let disability hamper his basketball skillsMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
December 13, 2012 6:00 pm  • 

CHICAGO HEIGHTS | Marian Catholic's John Oliver sees his only disadvantage as being 6-foot-3 and battling 6-5 or taller players for a rebound.

And many times, Oliver wins the battle.

Oliver was born with a club left hand, but will not say he is at a disadvantage and will not let it keep him from playing the game he loves. Oliver has a forearm, wrist, and the beginning of a palm.

"I go out there and play hard and go for a rebound," Oliver said. "I love playing basketball and nothing is going to stop me from playing."

It is a game he played from when he was a kid at his grandmother's house in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood.

"We would play from noon until 11 at night," Oliver said. "We would take a break to eat, of course."

His cousin, Devin Oliver, plays for the University of Dayton's men's basketball team. His dad, John, played at Lindblom High School and Northeastern Illinois University.

Oliver said his parents never treated him as a child with a disability and that is one of the reasons he said he does not feel that way. That is also a reason he does not wear a prosthesis.

"I tried in once, but I wasn't comfortable with it," Oliver said. "I am getting one made right now, but it's for weight lifting. It will allow me to grip the bar better so I will be able to lift more weight and get stronger."

Marian coach Mike Taylor said people take notice of his skills and personality.

"We have had a lot of coaches come through here to look at Tyler (Ulis) and they take note of John's play," Taylor said. "They notice a tough basketball player, not a player with one hand.

"We see him as our center and if we didn't know it, we wouldn't even notice it. He goes hard and is a battler in the paint."

Oliver said he needs to work on his game.

"I want to get better at going to my left," Oliver said. "I know it's a little harder for me, but I can do it."

Oliver, who has an older cousin with Down's Syndrome, said he does offer advice to people who have a disability.

"Don't let anyone or anything stop you from your dreams or goals," Oliver said. "You can't let it stop you. It may slow you a little, but you work that much harder. At the end of the day, it is who you are. Embrace it and make it fit you."

 

 

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