Ruling the Court on Two Wheels

Lake City Student with spina bifida Joins Traveling Wheelchair Basketball Team

“It’s the best thing. I wouldn’t be Eli Crittenden without it.”

Eli Crittenden is a 7th grader from Lake City who has always loved shooting hoops. He was born with spina bifida but that’s not keeping him from playing the sport he loves. Eli is ultimately hoping to go professional someday. “I am playing the hardest I’ve ever played in any sport to get to that level,” says Eli.

This is something that hasn’t held Eli up much in life – serving as an inspiration to those around him. Eli says simply, “Don’t let your disability define you. You can be much better than your disability.” 

His father Charlie Crittenden shares that raising Eli was no different than raising his other two able-body children. “We’ve raised him like a normal kid. Very few times we tell him no. We let him try things – if he can’t he tells us I can’t do it. ”

The Crittendens head from Lake City down to the Mary Free Bed YMCA every Tuesday night for basketball practice. Providing Eli the opportunity to play with and be around others with disabilities. “They get me. Some people from Lake City don’t get me,” says Eli.

When it comes down to the rules of the sport, there is not much of a difference between able-body basketball and wheelchair basketball. Eli and his teammates argue wheelchair basketball is even more competitive. “I feel like there’s a little more trash talk out on the court then there would be in a regular game,” says Eli.

In just 13 short years, Eli has proved to himself and the world that disability will never define him.

If you’re interested in seeing this team play they will be in Lake City on Saturday, March 9th for a charity game at 3:30 pm. If you’re looking to donate call (231) 499-6031.

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