El name of Hansel Emmanuel Donato It has long since ceased to be unknown to basketball fans. In fact, the young Dominican of 17 years has become one of the latest viral phenomena in the sport of the basket and each game becomes a inexhaustible source of videos and highlights with what he is able to achieve on a court with just one arm, something that seems unthinkable if we talk about succeeding in a sport like basketball. However, Hansel does not understand the impossible and has already managed to attract the attention of the NCAA before trying to face his true great challenge: get to the NBA.
Hansel’s story is that of an ordinary boy who enjoys playing in the street with his friends and who, at the age of six, like everyone else, takes advantage of any moment to do a mischief and challenge the same fear. 99 times that challenge comes up heads, but one out of 100 times the coin lands upside down. And that is what ‘Kikimita’ had to live, as it is known in the world of basketball. While his father, a former professional player in his country and his hero both on and off the court, was playing a street tournament Hansel was in the street playing with some friends and it occurred to him to climb a cinder block wall.
I didn’t want to do anything. I couldn’t tie my shoelaces, I couldn’t have a glass of water “
That wall would be insurmountable for Hansel. About to reach the top, young Emmanuel began to notice how the wall was swaying under his hands. The wall cracked and he ended up giving way and throwing the boy to the ground, with bad luck that one of the blocks fell on his left arm.. Despite his father’s attempts to help Kikimita, Hansel remained under the wall for more than two hours. Too much time. The tendons were destroyed and not even the doctors could save the arm, which had to be amputated.
Hansel, who already dreamed of basketball and the NBA of his admired LeBron James, saw his world collapse at that moment. He asked surprised because the other children did have two arms and began to understand that the basket had to take a back seat. The important thing was to learn to walk again without losing balance or to do more everyday tasks like eating or dressing. “I didn’t want to do anything. I couldn’t tie my shoelaces, I couldn’t have a glass of water,” he recalled years later.
Once he had controlled all the daily activities, it was time to return to concentrating on basketball. A sport that he had never forgotten and that was still anchored in the depths of his subconscious. Despite parental reluctance (“I did not want him to play because of the blows he could receive”) Hansel began to practice the dribble and throw with one hand until he turned the orange ball into one more extension of his body and showed that the good dreams is that sometimes they come true.
United States on the horizon
Raised in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Santo Domingo, he soon left those conditions behind thanks to the power of the Internet. Kikimita became a phenomenon in her country and her videos began to run like wildfire in the direction of the United States, where she attracted the attention of Moises Michell, coach at Life Christian Academy from Florida. In 2020, the 16-year-old 1.93-year-old moved to the North American country, crowning himself champion of the Central Florida Christian Academy State Championship with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists of the Dominican.
That was the takeoff of a rocket that has no signs of stopping. His numbers and, above all, the videos with his performances have made Emmanuel a global phenomenon that points to the NBA as the next great goal. At the moment he has already taken the first step towards it and has obtained a scholarship from the Tennessee State University to play in NCAA Division 1. Another achievement for an explosive and skilled player who has made work and effort the vehicle to overcome any adversity and think, legitimately, about facing LeBron or Kevin Durant, another of his references.
Three precedents in the university league
The arrival of Hansel Emmanuel to the NCAA already has precedent. In fact, three other one-armed players have tried their luck in the college league. The last was Zach Hodskins, a player from the University of Florida who took over from Grant Dykstra (he lost his arm as a child and after 16 operations managed to triumph in basketball and averaged 17 points and 5.5 rebounds to the NCAAII) and Kevin Laue (pvot of 2.10 m. Who managed to put 20 blocks in a game and who in 2009 became the first one-armed player to play in the NCAA) among players who have overcome the lack of his limb to triumph in the basketball.