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Famous Dyslexics: Sports

Famous Dyslexics- Sports

Dyslexics can often thrive on the court or field more than they do in the classroom. For students that fall behind in the classroom, sports can equal out the playing field.  Dyslexics are sometimes seen as outcasts in school and their self-esteem suffers because of this. The chance to be on a team with their classmates makes them feel included. Sports also offer struggling students a positive escape from hard homework and poor grades. These famous dyslexics have become most known for their athletic accomplishments!

 

Dyslexics who triumphed in sports

Magic Johnson

“All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and somebody who believes in them.”

picture of magic johnsonFor Earvin “Magic” Johnson, basketball wasn’t merely a game. The five-time NBA champion, who received his famous nickname after scoring 36 points in a high school game, found his success story on the courts – not in the classroom. Johnson struggled with dyslexia in school and took summer classes in order to stay caught up. As a young boy, he was judged by both his classmates and advisers. While others had low expectations, Johnson saw the potential he had as a basketball player. In order to secure a spot on the Michigan State University team, the young player dedicated his early mornings to practicing his sport. Two years after enrolling in college, Johnson was drafted into the NBA where he would go on to win five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was also a part of the United States’ gold medal basketball team at the 1992 Olympics.

 

Muhammad Ali

“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”

picture of Muhammad AliWorld heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali fought hard in the ring as well as in the classroom. Diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, Ali struggled with reading. He barely graduated from high school and never felt smart. He hated reading but loved to fight. A local law enforcement agent noticed the remarkable drive and energy that Ali had and later acted as the young boy’s boxing mentor. Ali grew up to become an incredible athlete, winning world championships and gold medals at the Olympics. Today, Muhammad, in collaboration with his wife, runs a program called “Go the Distance”, which aims to improve the literacy of young African Americans. He says his struggles with academics only motivated him to work harder for success.

Tim Tebow

“You can be extremely bright and still have dyslexia. You just have to understand how you learn and how you process information.”

picture of Tim TebowThe public eye is used to seeing NFL quarterback Tim Tebow tackle his opponents, but off the field, he spends time tackling the symptoms of his dyslexia. By looking at his high 3.7 GPA and the healthy study habits he exhibited while at the University of Florida, it would be hard to tell that the now free agent was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of seven. Tebow’s father and brother both struggled with the learning disability, so the symptoms Tim displayed were nothing unfamiliar to this family. Tebow says his dyslexia makes it hard for him to sift through large amounts of information in order to make a clear decision. He learns best from hands-on experience, rather than diagrams or game plans. In order to memorize complicated playbooks, Tebow makes his own flashcards to study up on plays before the big games. His dedication and willingness to put in extra behind-the-scenes work are what have helped the football player win multiple awards and honors for both his collegiate and professional football career.

 

Meryl Davis

“I learned how I learned and how my brain worked.  It helped me adjust and compensate for my differences…. It opened me up to problem-solving, seeing things differently, and how I can help myself overcome things.”

picture of Meryl DavisMeryl Davis often stays quiet about her dyslexia. She’s not embarrassed, but the world champion figure skater wants her skating to take the main stage. Meryl began ice skating at the age of five and was diagnosed with dyslexia in third grade. While she shined on the ice, she secretly struggled with self-esteem and often viewed herself as unintelligent. She had a hard time reading throughout high school but successfully graduated as a member of the National Honors Society. After high school, the figure skater continued on to pursue a college education at the University of Michigan. When the 2014 Sochi Olympics rolled around, Meryl and her dance partner of 17 years were determined to reap the benefits of their demanding workouts and travel schedules. Their risky routine paid off, and together they became the first American Ice Dancers to medal in gold. Davis says her dyslexia is what helped her develop a remarkable character. After taking the time to understand how her mind works best, she has become more patient with herself. Although her skating career is currently on hold, she continues to work towards getting her degree in cultural anthropology.

Ensure your child’s success by getting them the help they need. You can screen your child for dyslexia with our free dyslexia screener. 

 

Famous Dyslexics: Science

famous dyslexics in scienceDyslexia does not have to limit your accomplishments. Read the stories of three famous dyslexics who thrived in science despite their struggles…

Ann Bancroft

“My dyslexia and my challenges through school were the absolute perfect training for an expedition. Expedition people are all about one step in front of the other and not going very fast, just doing the hard work. What better way to get the work ethic than by having a learning difference?”

picture of Ann BancroftAnn Bancroft did not let her struggles with reading and mathematics stop her from becoming the first woman to cross both the North Pole and the South Pole.

From a young age, Ann Bancroft was keenly aware that she thrived in nature, but not the classroom. In order to get by in school, Bancroft managed her troubles in reading, spelling, and mathematics with the help of tutors and her parents. After the successful completion of fourth grade, Bancroft’s family relocated to Kenya. Bancroft remembers these years to be the most influential in her life. Her experiences in the natural world allowed her to be more expressive and confident in taking on challenges.

When she returned to the States two years later, she enrolled in the seventh grade at an academically prestigious school. In an effort to move forward in school, Bancroft and her family ignored her learning troubles and pressed on. Despite working tirelessly to improve her academics, she never saw the results she hoped for. By the recommendation of teachers, Bancroft was tested and diagnosed with dyslexia that same year. This diagnosis was a relief to her worried parents, but Bancroft did not want to be an outcast from her peers. Even with the knowledge of her learning disability, she continued to fall behind in school. Administration began to pull her out of extracurricular like art, music, and sports. Bancroft was left with no outlets to be expressive.

Bancroft transferred to another school to finish her last two years of high school and went on to receive an education degree from the University of Oregon. After spending four years working in special education, Bancroft decided to take a chance and do something extraordinary: go to the North Pole.

Being able to accomplish such a goal inspired Bancroft to create multiple foundations to fund and support children who desire to explore their passions outside of the classroom. In addition, she travels as a public speaker, sharing stories of her adventures with nature and dyslexia.

 

Carol Greider

“I learned that I had to work hard. But maybe because I was putting myself in a different category because there wasn’t anyone around to say, ‘It’s not because you’re stupid, it’s because you have this other issue,’ which I can now say to my son.”

Carol Greider alwayspicture of Carol Greider saw herself as “stupid” as a child and never intended to pursue a career in science. Ironically, the American molecular biologist won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering telomerase, an enzyme that has the potential to fight cancer and age-related diseases.

Greider says her early school days were not easy, as she struggled with spelling and sounding out words. She remembers being taken to separate rooms to learn, which deflated her confidence. Thanks to her determination, school got better for Greider. Instead of letting failures defeat her, she pushed through to accomplish her goals. One of her tricks was using memorization to remember difficult words such as dinosaur names. Greider did not identify herself as dyslexic until she later watched her own son face the same problems she did with reading.

After working in a laboratory in undergraduate school, the daughter of two biologists decided to pursue a graduate program. This was not an easy tasks, as most school rejected her because of her low standardized test scores. Thankfully, U.C. Berkley accepted Greider based on an interview and her high grades, experience, and drive. This is where she would go on to complete the groundbreaking research that garnered her a Nobel Prize.

Greider says a lot of her success and strength is attributed to her dyslexia. Because of her learning disability, she learned the importance of hard work and perseverance. 

Albert Einstein

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. Imagination encircles the world.”

picture of Albert EinsteinAlthough dyslexia diagnoses were not common during his lifetime, some academic societies believe famous genius Albert Einstein exhibited many symptoms consistent with those we now know to be related to dyslexia.

It was recorded Einstein did not speak until the age of three. His verbal development remained stagnant in school, where he struggled with arithmetic and foreign language studies. Teachers perceived the young boy as lazy and worthless. On the other hand, Einstein excelled in areas that utilized his nonverbal abilities. His interest in geometry flourished with the help of his uncle. He began to understand complex puzzles and prove theorems. His success in complex geometry and other visual subjects made him a creative thinker. 

His verbal struggles continued into his adult life. Einstein’s working memory was also poor. He did not exhibit strong memorization skills, often forgetting sequences as simple as the months of the year. Despite his struggles, he made scientific contributions that still continue to influence today’s understanding of the world around us.

Ensure your child’s success by getting them the help they need. You can screen your child for dyslexia with our free dyslexia screener. 


AnnBancroft 2006-02-06″ by Jonathunder – Own work. Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Commons
Carol Greider © Prolineserver 2010 / Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons
Einstein Photo Credit: Flickr: o5com