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 : Business and Entrepreneurship

Business and Entrepreneurship

Business and Entrepreneurship

A 2007 survey done by NY Times revealed that about 1/3 of surveyed business owners identified as dyslexic. Entrepreneurs and dyslexics often share some of the same skills, such as problem solving, persistence, creativity, and ability to look at the bigger picture. These are all positive attributes that can be turned into opportunities if seen as such. The following entrepreneurs and business people did just that.

Richard Branson

“Being dyslexic can actually help in the outside world. I see some things clearer than other people do because I have to simplify things to help me and that has helped others.”

4574017204_0be0a5151e_bBritish billionaire Richard Branson is the founder and CEO of Virgin Group. The entrepreneur dropped out of school at sixteen partly due to the struggles he faced with dyslexia. Teachers thought he was lazy because he did not work the same way his peers did. Realizing that the classroom was not the right environment for him, he used his entrepreneurial drive to begin publishing at the age of sixteen. Richard later went on to launch several branches of what would eventually become Virgin Group, including Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America airlines. In order to succeed in the business industry, Richard adapted his management style to the mechanics of his learning disability. Thanks to his dyslexia, he developed strong delegation abilities and was able to better focus his skills when applying them to different projects. As a dyslexic, Richard prefers everything to be simple and clear-cut. By making sure his business followed these guidelines, he created a brand that is known for having a superior and clear communication strategy that draws in customers. The entrepreneur says he never saw his condition as a disability, but rather a gift. This positive outlook is what drove him to become a powerful businessman and a strong advocate for those with dyslexia.

Daymond John

“My mother always said, ‘It takes the same energy to think small as it does to think big,’…So dream big and think bigger.”

5598588671_44e0dd9efc_oShark Tank investor and entrepreneur Daymond John knew from a young age that his strengths were creativity and analytical thinking, but he had to first overcome hurdles to finally harvest those talents. In school, Daymond had a hard time with reading and spelling. His parents often got frustrated, as they believed he just wasn’t applying himself. After watching her child struggle academically, Daymond’s mother worked closely with her son on a daily basis to help develop his abilities. Knowing that reading and writing were his weak points, Daymond worked hard to be exceptional at what he was already good at. This ideal brought him to enroll in a co-op high school program, which would allow him to work full-time one week and do his schooling the next. With great work experience under his belt, he later went on to create FUBU, an influential clothing line that has helped the entrepreneur garner many awards. Daymond did not get a diagnosis for his dyslexia until he was an adult, but he says he found his success by never letting his weaknesses define him. Drive and determination are what helped him transfer his creativity and analytical thinking skills into successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Tommy Hilfiger

“I performed poorly at school – when I attended, that is – and was perceived as stupid because of my dyslexia.”

5181824242_cca34087ee_bTommy Hilfiger, founder of the popular lifestyle brand Tommy Hilfiger, always knew he was different from the other designers in the fashion industry. He first noticed his learning disability in school when he received low grades on assignments. Because of his poor academic performance, his teachers simply thought he was unintelligent and never took the time to seriously diagnosis what was causing him to struggle. Instead of pursuing a higher education after high school, Tommy moved to New York City to work within the retail industry. At the age of eighteen, he opened his own storefront. Despite the store going bankrupt, the designer showed perseverance and went on to do freelance work for other well-known designers. These opportunities are what led to the founding of his own company, which has continued to remain popular for over twenty years. He believes his lack of formal training is what allowed him to have a viewpoint on design that differed from that of his colleagues. Tommy still has trouble reading and has to take time to concentrate to accomplish the task, but taking his own path has taught him how to use his struggles as tools for success rather than sources of frustration.

Nancy Brinker

I was such a hard worker all my life. I wasn’t stupid by any means, I had the intelligence, but I couldn’t learn the way other people did”

4028869951_19d1ec5f61_bNancy Brinker, founder of Susan G Komen for the Cure, struggled with reading, writing, and math, but this wasn’t obvious to her teachers and parents. Despite facing hardships in the subjects, Nancy learned how to use memorization to her benefit at a young age and, as a result, performed at the same level of her peers in the classroom. It wasn’t until standardized testing came along that Nancy’s parent realized something wasn’t right. Nancy knew how to memorize numbers and facts, but she couldn’t use logical methods like the test questions required. Even though standardized tests were a wake-up call, Nancy was never diagnosed with a learning disability. It wasn’t until her own son was diagnosed with dyslexia that she realized many of her symptoms were the same. Despite all of this, Nancy has gone on to create one of the most well-known breast cancer foundations and win the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given in the United States. Nancy found her success by focusing on her strengths in visual learning and growing from doing and experiencing, rather than reading. As for advice for young dyslexics that have some of the same troubles, Nancy encourages all children to find their passion and pursue what they love to do.

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

Photo Credits (some photos have been modified): Flickr.com – Jarle NaustvikU.S. Embassy Nairobi4hourworkweek, Kunstakademiets Designskole IAEA Imagebank

20 Common Dyslexia Symptoms

20 Common Dyslexia Symptoms

Dyslexia Symptoms and Behaviors of Dyslexic Children

Wondering about the most common dyslexia symptoms? Children can begin to show signs of dyslexia as early as the preschool years. While every person with dyslexia is unique, there are common symptoms that can serve as red flags for dyslexia. We have compiled a list of 20 of the most common symptoms to help you identify if your child is at risk.

Keep in mind that these are symptoms of dyslexia, not causes of dyslexia. For example, while dyslexia is not a vision problem, some dyslexics experience symptoms that seem to be related to vision, like confusing -b- and -d- or skipping words or lines when reading text.  Some of these symptoms relate to stress and how people with dyslexia try to communicate about their struggles.


Common Dyslexia Symptoms

These dyslexia symptoms are listed in no particular order.

  1. Strong listening comprehension and weak reading comprehension

  2. Difficulty reading words, especially in isolation, without a sentence context

  3. Difficulty spelling

  4. Low confidence and/or anxiety connected with reading and writing tasks

  5. Letter and/or number reversals (transposing)

  6. Problems pronouncing certain words

  7. Omitting sounds or letters when reading and writing words

  8. Headaches or other discomfort associated with reading and/or writing

  9. Difficulty with and/or resistance to reading aloud

  10. Easily distracted when reading and writing

  11. Difficulty forming letters (especially lowercase letters) consistently and legibly

  12. Difficulty following sequenced instructions

  13. Guessing, skipping, or replacing words instead of sounding them out

  14. Complaints that letters appear to move, are blurry or are out of focus

  15. Difficulty with organization and time management

  16. Limited awareness of the speech sounds in words

  17. Problems retrieving words

  18. Lowest grades in subjects that require a lot of reading and writing

  19. Reading, spelling and/or writing below grade level

  20. Difficulty with memorization

Is It Dyslexia?

The video below by clinician, Tori Whaley, discusses how some of these symptoms may show up in your child and when intervention is needed:

Getting Help For Your Child with Dyslexia

If you have a child exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, strongly consider seeking clinical help because children with dyslexia who do not read proficiently by third grade face challenging odds. In fact, research indicates they are four times more likely to drop out of high school. One option is online dyslexia therapy from a program like ours at Lexercise. We guarantee that a child will improve one whole grade level within two months or your third month is free. You can administer a free dyslexia test if you are unsure if your child has dyslexia or other learning disability. You can also request a free consultation with a Lexercise therapist to discuss your concerns.