One-Armed Basketball Player Recruited for College Team Scores His First Points

On December 10th, teammates and fans of Northwestern State sounded their applause when their new freshmen basketball player scored his first points for the team.

It was an extra special applause for the point guard, since Hansel Emmanuel has only one arm.

A minute later he added to his total with a thunderous dunk in what became a 91-73 win over Louisiana-Monroe, bringing the crowd of 1,600 to their feet.

But this is far from the beginning of Hansel Emmanuel’s story: last year, ESPN was already reporting that college recruiting analysts were interested in the young man from the Dominican Republic.

Playing on a cinderblock wall when he was six, it collapsed under him, crushing his arm and necessitating amputation. But like all champion athletes, he never stopped working, never let anyone feel sorry for him, and soon began to create a major social media following with small clips of him playing street ball.

Emmanual’s father was a professional in the Dominican Republic, and the social media videos caught the attention of one of his father’s former teammates—the head coach at Life Christian Acadmey in Florida. He brought Emmanual over on a scholarship, and soon the one-armed guard won the state championship, bringing interest from college scouts.

That journey began in January of 2021. Now just 23 months later, 19-year-old Emmanual has his first points at the college level. Last Saturday he was 2 of 3 from the field and 1 of 5 from the foul line, along with two rebounds in eight minutes.

“I had to keep going after the layup—that was my first bucket,” Emmanuel said in a quote posted on the Southland Conference school’s website. “I know my family was proud. I had to keep working. You can’t give up.”