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October 29, 2004

Stars Sign Osei Morris - First Deaf Player

From: Hoops World - USA - Oct 29, 2004

Burrel Lee, GM of the ABA Los Angeles Stars professional basketball team today announced the signing of Osei Morris, a person who has been hearing impaired since birth. According to Lee, "Osei is a very special young man and we will give him every opportunity to earn a spot on our team. Although Osei can read lips and voice some, he prefers sign language. We've provided him with an interpreter at practices and at games, and in fact, team members have already expressed interest in learning sign language to be able to communicate with him on the court better. Player Rudy Williams said, "Yeah, I need to learn how to tell him to set the pick in sign language." Lee added, "It is great that the guys would like to learn to sign. I think it will help us not only to communicate with Osei, but we can use it to our advantage on the court, where we can sign to each other without the other team knowing what we are saying. Osei wants and will be treated like all the other players."

Osei and his twin brother Adei proudly say they are deaf and part of a subculture with its own distinct language, culture and history. The rest of their family is hearing. He and Adei have always had aspirations to become pro basketball players and taught themselves to play by observing the game. They've made every team since little leagues throughout their years at Fairfax High School and Trade Tech Jr. College and played briefly at Gallaudet College for the Deaf in Washington DC.

Ramal "Rock" Lloyd, one of the LA Stars, was shooting around with Osei and told Coach Lee, "This kid can flat out play. I think to play ball all you have to do is put it in the hole and play defense. He is just like me and the next player and he puts his pants on one leg at a time."

If Osei makes the team, he will become the first black deaf basketball player to play pro ball in the US. The deaf and hard of hearing community would be proud to celebrate Osei's accomplishments just as they have for Curtis Pride, a deaf professional baseball player currently on the Anaheim Angels. Another deaf basketball player, Jamal Bradley from U of South Carolina, is currently playing overseas in Lithuania.

Osei concluded, (in sign), "I can do anything but hear and I am truly grateful for this extraordinary opportunity given to me by the Stars. Coach Burrel has a heart for the differently-abled and he has told me I have to earn a spot. I want to be a role model for other deaf boys and girls who are told you can't do this or that because you are deaf. I want to show them you can."

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