041_LANCE USA) of Challenged+


041 LANCE ALLRED (Japaneise)

“I want to give courage to people with disabilities through activities with children.”

Do you know a deaf basketball player who is from the United States, who has been active here in Japan? His name is Lance Allred.
Mr. Allred is hearing impaired, with a 75% hearing loss. However, he overcame various difficulties and is the first deaf basketball player in NBA history.
Mr. Allred performed well in his college career, Weber State University in the United States.
His senior year (2004-05), he led his team to a great results with many points and rebounds.
He also ranked third in the nation in rebounding.
He almost single-handedly carried Weber State to the championship game of the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
After he graduated from the college, he went to the professional leagues in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Venezuela and New Zealand.
In 2008, the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers offered Mr. Allred a contract.
He signed up and played for the Cavaliers.
LeBron James, an NBA superstar, was Mr. Allred’s teammate.
In the summer of 2011, he agreed to contractual terms to play for the Kyoto Hannaryz, (Japan Professional Basketball League).
He has been playing well as a center player and contributes to the team’s victories.
He was selected for the bj All Star game for the first time and got 14 points.
Kyoto Hannaryz is in the third place and aims to reach the playoffs.
Our hopes are raised and cannot take our eyes off him.
( Columnist / Odachi )


DAJ : Were you born deaf or became deaf later in life?

LANCE : I was born what is called an RH baby. My mother's blood type was negative and I was positive. My parents lived in a small town, in a very conservative community, where going to the doctor was frowned upon, and were told they just needed to have faith that their babies would be healthy. My mother's first 4 children came out fine, but I was the last child, and when I was born, I was nearly dead, because her body recognized my positive blood type as a parasite and began to kill me off. I was then rushed to the local hospital, 30 minutes away, and put in an incubator, where I received several blood changes, not just transfusions, but complete blood changes to cleanse my body of the alien white blood cells from my mother that were now fighting to kill off my body. At 18 months it was discovered that I had sever hearing loss. However, we do not know if the nerves in my ears were never fully developed due the RH factor with my mother, or simply damages through the blood changes.

DAJ : What is your level of hearing? For example, if you don't use a hearing aid, do you lose a lot of your hearing?

LANCE : Without my hearing, I hear about 30 percent of what "normal" people here. But that is a tricky statements, because unlike sight, hearing is much more difficult to measure, and thus harder to label a healthy set of ears, unlike saying someone has 20/20 vision. But for general purposes I have been told again, that I here about 30 percent of what the average person hears, or suffer about 70 percent hearing loss. But in this day and age of digital technology, hearing aids are so much better than what they were when I was a kid, when they were only analog. Now with digital, I hear so much better, but I still struggle and miss many things, and have to be looking at someone's face when they talk to me so I can read their lips.

DAJ : What made you interested in playing basketball?

LANCE : Between the age of 13 and 14, I grew 10 inches, from 5'10 to 6'4. And during that time my family had moved to a new part of Salt Lake City, Utah, and to make new friends, I decided to try out for the basketball team since I was so tall. I wasn't any good. I had never played organized basketball before. But I was so shy about my speech and communicating with people, that I really enjoyed the idea of being able to play basketball and find common friends, without the challenge of having to communicate with them. Little did I know that basketball would force me to be more communicative than I ever imagined myself to be.

DAJ : At anytime you are playing/practicing basketball, do you use a hearing aid?

LANCE : I wear hearing aids during practice. But during the games, with the roar of the crowd and the loud speakers, my hearing aids just shut down. So I don't play with them in games, but it is loud for everyone else as well, that they are screaming, which is very favorable for me, because I can't hear all the loud background noise, but I can make out the immediate screaming from my teammates right next to me and understand a lot of what is being said, especially after having played the game so long and having see basically all types of offensive schemes and patterns, that I pretty much know where I need to be at all times on defense. On offense, because it is so loud for everyone else, the coaches have always relied on hand calls, and not just because I am deaf, but for everyone's benefit.

DAJ : How did it feel to be the first deaf NBA player?

LANCE : Oh, it was definitely an honor. But there were a lot of other "labels" that I had to overcome. People said I wasn't athletic enough, or that I didn't come from a big enough school, or that I finished my collegiate career at the age of 24, and thus too old and many other things. People will give a million reasons why you cannot do something. It is up to you to decide what you listen to. And at the end of the day, I had to teach myself, through a lot of disappointment and hardship, that it is none of my business what other people think of me.

DAJ : While you were playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, do you have any interesting or funny stories with your teammates, for instance with Lebron James?

LANCE : LeBron and I got along quite well. On my first day at practice with the Cavaliers, the team was on the road in Washington, getting ready to play the Wizards, and Lebron saw my old shoes I brought with me from my NBA Development League team, and then offered me his shoes as he had two other pairs. He is far kinder than people give him credit for.

DAJ : I am a deaf player and when I play with hearing teammates, even though they know I am deaf, sometimes they will out my name forgetting that I cannot hear them. Did you ever have experience like that with your teammates?

LANCE : That comes with the territory. I have had many missed calls and missed plays, and sometimes my teammates and coaches grew angry and thought I was ignoring them, but then they remember that I am hearing impaired, and some coaches have gone so far as to say that I was using that as an excuse. I could have been hurt and walked away, but I told myself if I was going to be successful, not only at basketball, but in life, then I would never use my hearing as an excuse. I would take full accountability, even if I truly did not hear what was said. I would always say, "I am sorry, it was my mistake," and never say, "Sorry, I didn't hear you." To counter the risk of playing with a deaf teammate, I told myself that I would find other ways to make myself so valuable to my team, that my deafness would no longer be a real issue.

DAJ : How do you communicate with your teammates? If there is miscommunication, do you resort to written communication? How do you resolve miscommunication?

LANCE : Basketball is universal in its terminology. If you read body language, which is 80% of any language, then you can tell what is is people are trying to talk to you about. All you have to do is be confident, and look people in the eye and figure out what they are trying to say to you, and never let your insecurities about your hearing distract your focus. It is not so much the lack of hearing that caused me communication troubles through my early years, it was more the doubt in myself and my abilities.

DAJ : Do you have a particular routine or diet to keep at your best performance?

LANCE : I always take a nap before every game, or at least try to. Any my diet this year has been a healthy and giant chicken salad every night before the game, which is the most important meal.

DAJ : Ever since you've started playing basketball, is/are there any particular moment that you will never forget?

LANCE : My first college scholarship was a moment of pure joy for me. I had no idea I was good enough to have my college all paid for through basketball, let alone at my first school of choice, the University of Utah. Though that ended up being a bad experience, I will never forget the moment when I got the offer as a 17 year old kid, seeing that I had such a bright future ahead of me, all through the game of basketball.
Second, putting on my very own NBA Jersey for the first in my life, was a moment that I will always be grateful for.

DAJ : Did/do you have a basket ball player who is your role-model?

LANCE : Tim Duncan has always been a role-model for me: very quiet, soft spoken, fundamental and just gets his job done, without any of the drama. Brad Miller, as far as actual style of play, is the player I can most alike myself to, and have watched his game for years.

DAJ : Do you know about the Deaflympics? If yes, have you ever been selected by the American Deaflympic committee and participate in the games?

LANCE : In 2002 I was with Team USA in the World Deaf Basketball Championships in Athens, Greece. I was able to due that since I was sitting out a year in college as a redshirt, due to transferring schools to Weber State. Since I wouldn't be playing games for a year, my coach and I felt it a good call to go play some games in Athens. I had a great time, and really got quite good with my sign language. Since then however, all the Deaflympic and World Championships have conflicted in dates with professional jobs, or happened while I was currently under contract with another team. I would not be adverse to playing again on the deaf team, as again I enjoyed myself.

DAJ : What made you decide to come and play in Japan?

LANCE : I have always had great respect for Japanese culture and tradition, studied its feudal shogunate history in college. And so when the opportunity came I was very excited, plus I had nothing but good reviews from friends who have played here in the past, who all said they were always paid on time. And that is important, as right now global economy is so shaky, that it is a challenge to get paid on time in most basketball jobs outside of the US. Europe is risky, and I have done that enough, and so the opportunity to come to Japan was very promising and I was excited to take it.

DAJ : Are there any differences between Japanese and American basketball playing styles?

LANCE : The Japanese style appears to be much more analytical and almost careful, compared to the American style. There are some aspects about the American style that bother me: sometimes the players don't think enough and just shoot and think later. As well, sometimes, I feel the the Japanese style gets complacent or passive with too much analysis, afraid to make a mistake. I would say, I am somewhere in the middle, where you want to have a good conscience with basketball, you want to be thoughtful, but not too analytical, where you just forget to play basketball.

DAJ : How did it feel to be play the bj All Star game?

LANCE : The All-Star game was phenomenal. It was a rush really, to walk out in front of all 14,000 fans. I have not played in front of a crowd that size in a long time. It was exciting. And I was honored to be chosen and selected by the fans to represent my boosters, team and teammates.

DAJ : After more than 6 months of living in Japan, how do you feel?

LANCE : I love Japan. It has been amazing. Sure, there have been some adjustments that I had to make, but nothing too challenging. I am paid on time, treated with respect, and really that is all I can ask for. I hope to be here for many years.

DAJ : What do you do when you are not playing or practicing? What are your hobbies?

LANCE : Writing is my number one hobby, but I have to take breaks from that, especially when I stress myself out while writing, putting too much pressure on myself to finish a piece of work. It is a hobby, not a job. After that, I love to play chess, read and watch quality movies. And I stress, "quality."

DAJ : What message would you like to tell Deaf Athletes, who are in other fields of sports?

LANCE : Never hide behind your hearing. Own up to everything, even if it is truly not your fault. And most important, make yourself indispensable. Be so good and well rounded as an athlete, cerebral and effective at many things within your sport, that your skills on the court far outweigh your hearing, to the point where a team HAS to keep you.
( Interviewer / Odachi & Watanabe )



( Photo / Karino & Odachi & Watanabe )

Lance Allred
Date of birth: February 2, 1981
Uniform number: 41
Position: Center
Nationality: United States
College: Weber State University
Height / Weight: 6 ft 11 in / 268 lbs
Blood type: O
Shoe size: 33
Hand size: 23
Vertical jump: 2.43 ft
Respecter: Vance Allred, his father

His major career:
2005-2006 Spo Rouen Basket (France)
JL Bourg Basket (France)
Sedesa Lliria (Spain)
2006-2008 Idaho Stampede (NBDL)
Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
2008-2009 Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA)
Idaho Stampede (NBDL)
2009-2010 Scavolini Spar Pesaro (Italy)
2010-2011 Maroussi B. C. (Greece)
Utah Flash (NBDL)
Trotamundos de Carabobo (Venezuela)
Otago Nuggets (New Zealand)
2011-Present Kyoto Hannaryz