Los Angeles Preps: Steve Ackerman
February, 8, 2011
By Sean Ceglinsky | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES – First impressions typically tend to go a long way. In the case of Dawud Morrison-Muhammad, he initially appears to be your standard run-of-mill teenager, strikingly similar to most his teammates on the University High boys' basketball team.
He is standing along on the baseline, with Will Thornton on his left and Andrew May on the right, and preparing for yet another grueling set of drills requiring an all-out sprint up the court followed by what is supposed to be a full-speed jaunt back.
Next thing you know, Wildcats coach Steve Ackerman is blowing the whistle dangling around his neck. The sound echoes throughout the gym, and a split second later, bodies are in motion. Morrison-Muhammad and his teammates are off.
Right then you realize something is amiss, ever so slightly. The stride is a tad bit different from the others. Morrison-Muhammad has a hitch in his step. That, however, does not prevent him from finishing the mad dash in a timely fashion.
As a youngster, Morrison-Muhammad was diagnosed with a mild case of cerebral palsy, the symptoms coming in the form of ataxia and dysplasia. In layman's terms, the condition affected the development of his muscular coordination during his formative years.
Despite obstacles, his desire to become a contributor on the varsity level never seemed to waver. And the dream became a reality earlier this season when Morrison-Muhammad had the opportunity to suit up in a University uniform for the first time.
“When I was growing up and trying to decide what I wanted to do in life, what sport I wanted to play, basketball was it. I wasn't going to let cerebral palsy, or anything else, stop me from doing exactly what I wanted to do in the future,'' said Morrison-Muhammad, 17.
“At times, I was told that I can't do this, or I can't do that, but that kind of stuff never bothered me. It made me want to work harder and prove everyone wrong. The main thing is, I feel like you can't beat me. I feel like, if we get on a treadmill and you say run, I'll run until my legs give out. If you say shoot, I'll shoot until I can't lift my arms anymore.
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