CHAMPAIGN, IL (KCAU) – A seventh-grader became a social media phenomenon after the University of Illinois introduced him to the world during a televised game.
The three-pointer shot he made more impressive by the odds he had to overcome to get there.
Jojo Hayes has loved basketball for as long as he can remember.
“When I was little, probably six or seven, I started playing and I literally loved it, so I just kept doing what I did and didn’t let it stop me,” said Jojo Hayes.
While his skills on the court are nothing new to his classmates, his deep three at the Illinois game has allowed more than 200,000 people across social media to see his abilities.
Hayes lost both of his legs after contracting meningitis at age one, a procedure the doctors didn’t think he would survive.
That hasn’t stopped him from sharing his charismatic personality with everyone he encounters.
“Every now and then, you get one of those students that is so special that you get to be a small part of their life,” said Danielle Gray, school counselor.
His life sees no limitations despite the challenges that have been given to him.
“I can use my hands. I don’t have legs, but I still don’t let that stop me, so I’m guessing that basketball is really the sport for me,” said Hayes.
“He does have a lot of challenges and obstacles in his way, but I think with that mental attitude, you can really take on a bigger path in life. He can encourage other kids who have similar disabilities and just let them know a lot of it is your attitude,” said Gray.
No matter where life takes Hayes, he will be open to embracing any challenge, and if the Illini give him another opportunity to play at half-time, he’ll be ready.
“I’m going to try, see if I can, get some more fans, even though I already have them. Extra, just so they can see me,” said Hayes.