A 14-year-old basketball player from Guangdong province has become an overnight sensation after showing off his insane handles despite having only one arm, earning praise even from a two-time NBA MVP.
Zhang Jiacheng lost his right arm in an accident at an oil mill when he was just five years old. However, he hasn’t let that misfortune stop him from pursuing his dreams of becoming a basketball star. Two years ago, Zhang started playing basketball as part of a training program — since then he’s gotten quite good.
Last week, video went viral across Chinese social media of Zhang playing one-on-one against some professional players. To score on them, the teenager puts on a dribbling exhibition that has drawn comparisons to his idol Kyrie Irving.
The clips caught the attention of Chinese basketball stars as well as Weibo user Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors who asked for help in contacting Zhang.
Zhang responded with a video on his own Weibo account, saying that he looks up to Curry because though he isn’t tall or strong by NBA standards, he is still one of the top players in the entire league.
The following day, Curry hit him back with some nice words of his own:
“You are an inspiration. You don’t take no for an answer. You have found a way to overcome and get out there on the basketball court and show people just how much the game means to you,” Curry said.
“It’s awesome to watch. Continue to be an inspiration to anybody that lays eyes on you and thinks that you can’t do something, you show that you can and you can do it well.”
Meanwhile, Zhang received an invite to visit the practice facility of the Chinese Basketball Association powerhouse Guangdong Southern Tigers where he shot some hoops and received a basketball from star player Yi Jianlian that was signed by the whole team.
He has also been officially registered as an athlete and local officials have set things up for him to undergo special training in basketball.
The whirlwind of a week has obviously been a shock to the 14-year-old who has picked up millions of fans.
“I am very excited to receive all this attention,” Zhang told his followers on Weibo. “With this encouragement, I feel like I have to try harder to live up to people’s expectations. I will strive to do better and improve.”