NBA star Stephen Curry praised a one-armed 13-year-old basketball fan in China after posting a video of the boy on his social media account.
His followers commented the boy’s name was Zhang Jiacheng, a 13-year-old from Yunfu in Guangdong province. Zhang lost his arm at 5 years old in an accident.
The aspiring athlete has dreams of becoming a professional basketball player like his idol Curry.
Zhang has posted several videos on his Weibo account, with some racking up more than 50 million views.
After being noticed online, reporters arrived at the teen’s home to record him demonstrating his skills. His father disapproved, denying requests for an interview.
“I don’t want to attract so much attention. Too much media exposure is no good for him,” his father said.
Even with his father’s disapproval, Zhang continued to post on social media and responded to Curry’s post via a video on June 4, saying, “I am a fan of you and I like you very much because you are not so tall or strong, but you are the top player in the NBA.”
A day later, Curry made another video and called Zhang “an inspiration.”
“I just want to say you are an inspiration, you don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, you find the way to overcome and get out there on the basketball court and show people how much the game means to you,” he told the teen. It’s awesome to watch, continue to be an inspiration to anybody that lays eyes on you, and show that you can.”
Zhang demonstrated his skills after being invited to visit the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) champions Guangdong Southern Tigers club, where he did a one-on-one against the team’s point guard Xu Jie while other players watched.
“He has shown his solid fundamentals and a good physical balance. We can feel his efforts behind with such performance at his age,” Guangdong coach Du Feng said. “I hope that he can carry on and enjoy the sport.”
The team also invited Zhang to watch the games, resuming on June 20.
In addition to watching the team live, Zhang also received the opportunity to become a junior athlete at Guangdong where he would receive systematic training in Yunfu.
“This is a kid with a great dream,” said the Guangdong club. “Hopefully he will grow up and become stronger without being diverted too much from his love for basketball.”