Founder of the Wheelin’ Jazz
NWBA Hall of Fame – Thanks to my great teammates in Utah
2 Time Gold Medalist and 4 Time Paralympic Medalist
2 Time World Champion
Profession: Public Speaker
Like most wheelchair athletes, I had an accident that altered the course of my athletic career. For me, it was a shooting accident at age 14 which left me paralyzed from the waist down. Wheelchair sports – and especially wheelchair basketball – were a huge part of my rehabilitation that helped me regain my self worth. At first, I was hesitant to play thinking it would be strange or not what I knew as a stand up basketball player. Well, once I began playing I was hooked and realized that these were great athletes who used tires instead of gym shoes. I realized that this was the same game and it filled a huge void in my life.
I have been a member of the Utah Wheelin’ Jazz for 20 years and we are very proud of our accomplishments – on and off the court. We have been to the Final Four the past two years. More importantly, myself and my great team members have influenced thousands of people. How? We do school assemblies, Utah Jazz Halftime Exhibitions, community events, etc.. We have found that our stories and examples greatly influence the attitudes and outlook of people who are facing so many challenges in their lives.
I could go on and on about the benefits of wheelchair sports and basketball. The sport saved my life in some aspects and I will forever be grateful to Mr. Mike Johnson who came to the rehab unit in Provo, Utah following my accident and convinced me I could still be an athlete – just in a different way. Now, all these years later, I am thankful that I have been able to introduce dozens of individuals with disabilities to the same opportunities I was given. We appreciate the support of so many family members and sponsors who have joined us in the cause of changing lives through wheelchair basketball.
Sincerely, Mike Schlappi