CINCINNATI (FOX19) - One of the best basketball teams in the country resides right here in Cincinnati. And soon, one of its best players and captain will journey thousands of miles to continue playing.
Kerwin Haake is a high school senior often spotted rocking a basketball jersey. Each week, he and his family make the trip from Lexington to Cincinnati where Kerwin plays for the Dragons, a wheelchair basketball team.
While a weekly trip from Lexington to Cincinnati might seem like a lot for some people, it’s nothing compared to the road Kerwin has taken to get to this point.
Mike and Rebecca Haake first met Kerwin when he was five years old while on a mission trip to Haiti.
Kerwin, who was born deaf with cerebral palsy, was adopted by Mike and Rebecca.
Now, back in Lexington, Kerwin would need help to walk and learn sign language. He went to school at the Kentucky School for the Deaf, which is where started to learn the game of basketball.
But, without a team to play for in Lexington, the Haakes drove three times a week to Cincinnati. This gave Kerwin the chance to play with one of the best wheelchair teams in the country.
“Some of my coaches were former Olympians, Paralympians, and European players, and I thought that was really cool,” Kerwin said in sign language. “I was really interested to learn how to become the best player from them and I really started to improve.”
And improve he did.
Kerwin’s game blossomed as he practiced with world-class teammates at a rec center in Cincinnati.
A point guard with a good shoot, Kerwin won time and time again. His success on the hardwood gained the attention of college recruiters.
In all, Kerwin says he had about five colleges interested in him.
Using his mom to help with the interview, the importance of an interpreter is one of the reasons he says he chose the University of Arizona.
“Because they had a deaf basketball player before, a lady, I think that was going to be helpful for me to communicate with the team,” Kerwin said in sign language.
For Kerwin to get where he is takes hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and a family to open their home.
A young person, who opened a future for himself, Kerwin doesn’t know where the game might take him. What he does know is that no matter what, his family will wear show support proudly.
Kerwin isn’t planning on calling it quits after college either.
When asked if he wants to continue playing basketball after college, Kerwin signed, “Yeah, I do. I hope I can continue after college to play. Maybe, like, Team USA or play against other countries. I would love to play at that level and have that path.”
Kerwin starts at Arizona in the fall.
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