HOUSTON (AP) Charlotte Hornets star Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was at home watching the World Series and marveling at a big hit by George Springer when he learned something about the Houston Astros star that impressed him even more than that play.
”That was a big moment in this atmosphere in Houston,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. ”Then I saw that he stutters and I was like: `Oh man, he stutters?”’
It was an important discovery for Kidd-Gilchrist, who also stutters, and spurred him to reach out to the outfielder. The two connected with the help of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and developed a relationship during the last few months.
”He’s open. I’m open about it, too,” Kidd-Gilchrist said of their stuttering. ”He’s older than me and he’s a guy that I look up to.”
On Friday they spent time together at Minute Maid Park before Houston’s game against Oakland. Kidd-Gilchrist took batting practice with the World Series MVP, and the two laughed and joked at the forward’s struggles to make contact.
Springer, who stuttered so severely as a child that he rarely talked to those outside of close family and friends, was humbled Kidd-Gilchrist reached out to him and was touched by his story.
”It’s crazy. It’s cool. I think it’s an honor,” he said. ”It just shows you that there’s a lot of people in all different areas of life that experience it.”
Springer is the spokesperson for The Stuttering Association for the Young and hosts a fundraiser each year to raise money for their camp for children who stutter. He often says if he can reach just one person then his work with the organization is worth it.
He knows plenty of children have found inspiration in what he’s overcome, but he was a bit surprised another professional athlete was so impressed by him.
”The goal is to impact somebody somewhere,” Springer said. ”And for me to get in touch with him and kids to see that there are people everywhere, it doesn’t matter if you play professional baseball or you’re in the NBA or you’re in construction, we’re all humans and it’s good to not feel alone.”
Kidd-Gilchrist agrees and feels a responsibility to tell his story to let kids who are dealing with the same issue know that they can get through it.
”It’s important to me,” he said. ”I know it’s important to him to reach out to people who stutter … it isn’t just the both of us, it’s all of us around the world that stutter, old, young, male or female, it’s important to all of us who stutter.”
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