Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has had to overcome a lot in his short NBA career. A broken jumpshot, multiple injuries, Mike Dunlap, but none of this has stuck with him as much as stuttering. When Kidd-Gilchrist entered the NBA he had a very noticeable stutter, and it was something that made him very self conscious of his speaking. In an interview with the National Basketball Players Association website Kidd-Gilchrist opened up about when his hesitancy to speak publicly began.
“NBPA Did any of your hesitation early on come from having to adjust to the increase in media attention as a high school All-American?
MKG: That’s where it started—in high school. I didn’t want to talk to nobody, so I would just run from it. And then now, at this stage, I’m not running from it, I’m not fighting it. I’m just Mike in my eyes. What you see, most of the times I don’t see it.”
According to the national stuttering foundation, more than 70 Million people worldwide stutter. In the United States that number is likely somewhere around 3 million. As someone still coping with his stuttering, Kidd-Gilchrist does what he can not only to further his own confidence with speaking, but helping those that have similar difficulties.
Kidd-Gilchrist is a regular attendee of the National Stuttering Association conference, and it’s here he can be a source of inspiration as someone that has overcome his stuttering. He’s worked with a speech pathologist for much of his adult life, and it’s through the hardwork that has defined his career that he has been able to reach the point he is at today. The player that once froze up when being interviewed publicly can now seamlessly answer questions, and it remains one of the NBA’s best success stories.
“NBPA: Since 2015, you’ve been involved with the National Stuttering Association’s annual conference. What’s that experience been like for you?
MKG: I love going to the conference and I want to go every year. This year was in Atlanta. Everybody stutters, everybody’s open to one another and there’s probably like 1,000 people there—all ages, from kids to adults. There’s workshops and then they party after the conference to celebrate opening up about their stutter.”
Attending the National Stuttering Association conference has only motivated Kidd-Gilchrist to improve his speaking that much more. Just like on a basketball court, he knows his role and he knows what is necessary of him to help out.
“NBPA: How much has the conference helped you?
MKG: The conference helped me for sure. I was very motivated by the experience. And then when I got there, there were people that couldn’t say a word. I felt so bad for them. I didn’t go through that. So I saw that and I’m, like, “Damn, I’ve got to be able to help these people because they can’t even talk.” So when I saw that, I was, like, “This is bigger than me right now.”
“NBPA: So you actually encouraged some people to talk for the first time in public?
MKG: Yeah, just because we know what it feels like when we don’t talk.”
In the same interview Kidd-Gilchrist is asked about his hometown of Somerdale, New Jersey and the work he puts into that community. Kidd-Gilchrist is a frequent visitor of his hometown and is a recognizable figure there. People in Somerdale know who he is, and Kidd-Gilchrist is very proud of that.
“NBPA: Also off the court, you’ve focused many of your efforts in your hometown, Somerdale, and nearby South Jersey communities. What’s been most special to you about your local impact?
MKG: The most special thing is no matter how big I get, the people still remember me as regular Mike. I just know that I can do something that means a ton to my town. My memories with the people will never ever fade, like the block parties when I was young. There were so many memories, just being around the loving people—all my friends and all my family. The love from the people matters the most.”
Kidd-Gilchrist plans on having a Thanksgiving drive in South New Jersey later this month. The interview continues on with more questions about his hometown and what he’s done for the community there, as well as his impact on Charlotte. It’s a great read from start to finish and gets a strong recommendation.
Kemba Walker did an interview with Sports Illustrated where he was asked the question everybody has been wanting to know. Would he rather fight one bobcat sized hornet or 100 hornet sized bobcats.