Hansel “Kikimita” Emmanuel at age six was a normal kid in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He spent his days at school and hanging out with his friends playing various games. Emmanuel had a special love for sports. Hansel could be found playing baseball but his true love was basketball due to his father’s professional background in the Dominican Republic as he played in the professional leagues and spent time with the national team. Hansel looked up to LeBron James and considered him a hero. However, things took a drastic and sharp turn for Hansel.
One day while playing with his friends, Hansel was climbing a cinderblock wall when the wall collapsed and rubble fell onto his left arm crushing and trapping it for two hours before his father could set him free.
Despite being freed, the damage was already done: all the tendons in Hansel’s left arm were crushed and the doctors had no choice but to amputate.
Initially, the amputation took a huge mental toll on Hansel. He had to re-learn simple tasks such as tying his shoes, drinking a glass of water, and eating food. Emmanuel also had to give up playing baseball. Instead of sulking due to the fact that his dreams to be a successful and dominant athlete seemed to be near impossible, Emmanuel used them as motivation.
Hansel jumped back into basketball by re-learning all the basic skills with just one hand such as shooting without a “guide” hand, dribbling, and passing. As Hansel grew older, his skills became more and more impressive. Hansel became a local celebrity as he grabbed the attention of Dominican national media. He would then use the power of social media to broadcast and share his journey to the rest of the world as The One-handed Hooper.
After posting himself easily dominating games, he gained hundreds of thousands of followers. He would finally get the opportunity he deserved when Florida’s Life Christian Academy coach Moises Mitchell noticed Hansel’s incredible skills and offered him a chance to play for him in 2020 on a full scholarship. Mitchell played with Hansel’s father in the Dominican Republic and became a second father to him helping him adjust to the United States by helping him move and teaching him English.
Hansel immediately gained national media coverage as he dominated opponents with just one hand and eventually led his new team to a State championship scoring twenty-six points, having eleven boards, and seven assists in the final game. The near triple-double in the huge game brought even more attention to Hansel as he would be featured on ESPN and all of their social media platforms.
NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal would also give Hansel recognition stating how special he was for beating the top high school prospects in the nation with just one arm.
Despite the success and clear high talent level, Hansel struggled to gain Division 1 offers. Media outlets such as BallisLife and Overtime continued pushing Hansel Emmanuel’s propaganda in order to make his dreams a reality. Finally, the HBCU Tennessee State stepped up on August 13th, 2021 offering Hansel a full ride. Head Coach Brian Collins reportedly loves Hansel’s game and the school is completely sold on the prospect as they see him as the potential future of the program.
Hansel plays with a ton of confidence and swag on the court. He is extremely fast and has nice bounce along with great size. His jumper is smooth and he has a great handle. Of course, programs are concerned with his defensive abilities as having only one arm creates an obvious weak side, but Hansel has shown he has the foot speed to limit that from happening.
This wouldn’t be the first time we would see a basketball player with one arm play Division 1 basketball.
Zach Hodskins from the University of Florida would walk on at the school and get some nice run towards the end of his collegiate career. Hodskins ability to play for Florida gives Hansel hope that he can also play at a legit collegiate level. The difference between the two is that the sky is the limit for Hansel.
Hansel Emmanuel is an incredible talent with an even better story. Despite his arm being crushed, his dreams weren’t and he showed a great amount of perseverance. No matter what level Hansel ends up on, he already beat the odds to become a Division 1 athlete so we shouldn’t count him out on beating the odds one more time.
Photo: Saul Young/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC