Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey has talked in the past about a speech impediment she struggled with as a youth. But to one mother, the description of Rousey's experience was distinct -- and rare.

Laura Smith soon theorized that Rousey dealt with the same condition as her daughter -- apraxia of speech, which is characterized by the brain's inability to control the motor functions of certain parts of the body -- in this case, the muscle groups that affect speech.

Smith eventually learned about an opportunity to meet Rousey. She went to Rousey's book signing in Denver. When her turn came to get Rousey to sign a copy, Smith asked the UFC champ: Did you have apraxia?

As Smith details to TheMighty, Rousey looked stunned -- but then admitted that, yes, doctors had told her that was the likely condition.

Smith and Rousey talked excitedly about the condition, its lack of awareness, and the particular struggle of the condition. Smith left a brochure with Rousey that explained apraxia and how to look for the signs.

When the mother returned home later that night, she found this posted to Facebook:


Does your kid having trouble speaking? Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of Apraxia and what can be done to help your child find their voice at apraxia-kids.org

Posted by Ronda Rousey on Friday, May 29, 2015

Thanks to Rousey, apraxia of speech is getting more attention, and parents are hopefully more equipped to spot its symptoms. And in return, Rousey gained two devoted fans -- and added a new wrinkle to her remarkable life story.

Ohio State's game Monday at Virginia Tech is loaded with storylines: The Hokies gave the defending national champs their only loss in 2014. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 1. Braxton Miller makes his receiver debut. Ohio State still has not announced a starting quarterback. And Joey Bosa is among a group of suspended Buckeyes.

Here's another: Ohio State and Virginia Tech will wear matching helmet stickers to honor the WDBJ-7 shooting victims, Alison Parker and Adam Ward.

Virginia Tech Ohio State Helmet Sticker

Virginia Tech revealed the stickers Sunday, and Ohio State announced Thursday it was given permission to provide its players with the stickers.

Parker and Ward were killed at Smith Mountain Lake, just over an hour drive from Blacksburg. The Labor Day game, scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on ESPN, will include a 30-second moment of silence in remembrance of the victims before the national anthem.

Parker and Ward both went to high schools in Virginia. Parker earned a communications degree at Virginia Tech. Ward attended James Madison University, also in Virginia.

The Hokies won last year's opener in Columbus, 35-21.

Mighty Miguel

When Miguel Reyes was diagnosed with brain cancer last year, his former teacher -- whom he now refers to as "Aunt Peg" -- gave him some advice.

"I said, 'You need to name that tumor so we can kill it,'" said Peg Kelly. "You know what he named it? Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers. What a stinker!"

According to The Elkhart Truth, the nickname 'Aaron Rodgers' stuck -- and like his Bears, Reyes remains determined to fight and defeat the villain.

Kelly, it's worth noting, is a die-hard Green Bay fan -- and that fact has remained front-and-center for the duration of her relationship with Reyes.

The ninth grader met Kelly in middle school, and while he's now starting high school, she has stayed by his side through his cancer fight.

Nicknamed "Mighty Miguel," Reyes has enjoyed strong support from the community. The family is currently running a GoFundMe to raise money for a service dog that can assist with Reyes' vision problems and seizures -- two side effects of his brain tumors.

Reyes named the German shepherd Hester after his favorite Bears player, Devin Hester.

Now, the NFL season is coinciding with Reyes' eighth and final round of chemotherapy. After 33 separate treatments, the growth of Aaron Rodgers has stopped, which is a great sign for Reyes. But Aaron Rodgers is still causing headaches, seizures and other problems that make daily life a pain -- hopefully for only a little longer.

Bears fans are nodding their heads.

Naturally, it's a season for trash-talk -- and Aunt Peg is happy to dish it out.

"Who names a dog Hester?" she said, according to the Truth. "That's just wrong."

Former NBA star Antawn Jamison's parents, Albert and Kathy, went on vacation to New Orleans 10 years and one week ago.

"And all of a sudden, everyone was being told to get out," Jamison says.

Jamison had just finished his seventh of 16 NBA seasons. He made his first All-Star Game in his first season with the Washington Wizards. He made a better life for himself and his family, and here his parents were, stuck in New Orleans. Getting hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Antawn New Orleans

Jamison was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, where Albert and Kathy were both raised. In August 2005, the couple, who had moved to Charlotte, went back to Louisiana to visit family and friends.

"I'm trying to do everything possible to help them out," Jamison remembers. "They were in a situation, where we saw what was going on television, with people being stuck, and you heard stories about no electricity. People could not take showers or anything of that nature."

Antawn Smile

The Jamisons found safety during the hurricane in a hotel, but the realities of the storm set in. Jamison communicated with his parents via cell phone for the "first couple days," but phone towers eventually went dead. He tried to get helicopters, but New Orleans was helpless.

"For a good three or four days, I'm only reading about or hearing about what's on the radio or TV," Jamison says. "I have my parents, who were in the middle of this tragedy and something that's affecting us all as a nation. To have my parents there and not being able to get out, those three or four days were the toughest days for me."

The Jamisons would have been stranded for longer had it not been for Albert's craft.

"Fortunately, my dad is a mason," Jamison cracks.

Albert pulled out some tools and got on the road for Houston. A few days later, Jamison had them on a flight home.

Antawn Amare

"Something like this could still take place," Jamison says. "I don't think you can ever plan for anything like that."

Although he moved to Charlotte around age 13, Jamison never lost connection to Louisiana. NBA stops in Golden State, Dallas and Washington by the time of Katrina were just that–stops.

In 2008, Jamison made his second All-Star Game, which was played in New Orleans. As part of the festivities, players had a community service requirement. Jamison helped build a playground.

"I'm a big advocate about helping out kids and giving them the opportunity to play," Jamison says. "Having a playground in my neighborhood and being able to stay out of trouble, I feel like especially now, a lot of people are staying in and playing video games. In bad cases, a lot of times kids don't have the opportunity to have a playground to play at in their neighborhood. I loved how it went there."

Antawn And Kids

Jamison was introduced to KaBOOM!, a non-profit organization that provides active play to children, especially impoverished American children. Since Katrina, KaBOOM! has attained more than $27.1 million and used 43,791 volunteers to rebuild playgrounds in the Gulf Coast. Since the 2008 All-Star Game, Jamison has partnered with KaBOOM!

"Kids are growing up faster," Jamison says. "They're spending more time in front of the TV. I'm a big advocate about playgrounds, giving kids the chance to be successful academically and things of that nature."

Jamison dug back into his birthplace. He funded his first playground through KaBOOM! in Shreveport. Jamison followed with a build in Charlotte and two in Washington D.C. He worked alongside Michelle Obama for the 2011 Congressional Day of Service.

"This is my calling, to continue to affect people in a positive way," Jamison says. "My job is not done just because I'm done playing the game of basketball and people may not recognize me."

Jamison left the Wizards for the Cavs in 2010. He finished his career with two seasons in Los Angeles, one for the Lakers and one from the Clippers, before retiring in 2014.

Jamison resides in Charlotte, but on the 10-year anniversary of Katrina, he still has that special connection to his roots in Louisiana, where the infrastructure continues to be rebuilt.

Antawn Lakers

"I look at it as God has blessed me with the talent to play ball, but also to give back to the less fortunate and give back to kids," Jamison says. "For me, it's recognizing that I have to be an example and it's not all about 16 years of playing out my dream. It's about building playgrounds, about building houses, doing a shoe drive during wintertime, giving back to kids who might not be able to have the opportunity to do what I did."

Jamison finished with career averages of 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists. His No. 33 at North Carolina is retired. He was a National College Player of the Year Award winner and NBA Sixth Man of the Year winner. Now stats that matter now come in playgrounds erected.

"As long as they're willing to have me back them up, I'm going to continue to do so as long as possible," he says.

This past week, KaBOOM! organized two new playground builds in New Orleans, while also setting up events to share stories for the 10-year anniversary of Katrina.

Justin Wilson Fund

IndyCar driver Justin Wilson crashed Sunday at Pocono Raceway and suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him in a coma. He died the next day.

As a tribute to Wilson, a motorcade of IndyCars and Holmatro Safety vehicles crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on Thursday with the Astor Cup. It will be awarded to the champion when the season ends this weekend in Sonoma.

Wilson's Andretti Autosport teammate, Marco Andretti (grandson of Mario, son of Michael), led the group in Wilson's No. 25 car. Two Holmatro Safety vehicles, the same that were on site at the Pocono crash, flew Justin Wilson flags from the back of their trucks.

Drivers Will Power, Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden and James Hinchcliffe also participated in the motorcade. Wilson, a native of England, was 37. He was the first IndyCar rider to die in action since Dan Wheldon in 2011. A charity, Wilson's Children's Fund, has been established on behalf of his family.

North-bound traffic on the bridge was closed to accommodate the motorcade:

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Taiwan and Uganda are an ocean and billions of dollars in GDP apart. On Monday night, on an equal playing field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the children of both nations showed mutual respect.

In the bottom of the fourth at the Little League World Series, with Chinese Taipei leading 3-0, pitcher Wei Hung Chou clonked Uganda's Joshua Olara with a high fastball.

via GIPHY

Wei, feeling remorse, trotted over to first base to bow toward Olara who bowed in return.

via GIPHY

Later in the inning, Olara charged into second base trying to beat out a fielder's choice. Along the way, the 5-7 Olara took out 4-7 infielder Shu Wei Lin with a slide. Olara popped back up, made sure Shu was OK and shared a smile with his rival.

via GIPHY

Chinese Taipei and Uganda players traded hats after the game. Competitors on the field, the two squads have made lifelong friends off the field. International teams from continents such as Asia and Africa travel halfway around the world to spend two weeks with total strangers, who share a love of baseball.

Chinese Taipei won, 5-0. The loss eliminated Uganda, a nation budding with baseball. At 1-2, the team accomplished more than was arguably expected of it. Chinese Taipei was eliminated Tuesday after an 11-1 loss to Mexico.

Scherzer No-Hitter

Max Scherzer threw a no-hitter and nearly a perfect game June 20 against the Pirates. But the case could be made that Scherzer was even more dominant in his previous start, a one-hitter in Milwaukee on June 14.

Consider this breakdown:

June 14 @ Brewers: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 16 K, 0 HB.
June 20 vs. Pirates: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, 1 HB.

Hublot Big Bang

No matter how you drill down the numbers, Scherzer was sizzling in those two games, and his start after the no-hitter was pretty impressive as well. On June 26 in Philadelphia, Scherzer held the Phillies scoreless until the seventh inning.

It is one of the strongest three-game runs for a pitcher. Ever.

To commemorate this feat, Scherzer has given his catchers, Jose Lobaton and Wilson Ramos, a special gift: A Hublot Big Bang watch. Price varies according to the exact model, but most Big Bang watches are in the $8,000 range.

Lobaton caught the one-hitter against the Brewers. Ramos worked Scherzer's next two starts.

Scherzer gave the watches to them in low-key fashion with a thank-you and a handshake. He declined to comment further about his generous gesture. But as we learned in the story about Scherzer's autographs-for-charity program, the Nationals star has a big heart.

Jason Pierre-Paul

Jason Pierre-Paul still has not reported to the Giants this preseason, and the team has been unable to get any information on his medical status after a Fourth of July fireworks accident. But at least now they know he has a device with Instagram capability.

Pierre-Paul, who had his right index finger amputated, expressed support for a fellow hand-handicapped individual late Monday night. The two-time Pro Bowler posted an Instagram of 5-year-old Hailey Dawson, who threw out the first pitch in Baltimore on Monday with an Orioles-themed robotic hand.


Hailey, who made the trip from Las Vegas, has Poland Syndrome, a birth defect that prevents her right hand from fully developing. The robotic hand she used Monday was created by UNLV students with a 3-D printer.

Pierre-Paul insists he will not join the Giants until he is fully healthy, a decision that has Giants owner John Mara publicly saying, "I'm beyond the point where I'm annoyed."


The football paparazzi tracked Pierre-Paul down earlier this month in South Florida and found him wearing a heavy bandage on his hand. Pierre-Paul reportedly had flesh burned off in the accident.

The Giants can only hope Hailey's story gives Pierre-Paul a little inspiration to get back to what he does best: Play football. The team opens the regular season Sept. 13 in Dallas.

NBA veteran JaVale McGee's Juglife Foundation is dedicated to bringing clean water to those who need it, and its latest project is building wells in Uganda. McGee staged a celebrity softball game at UCLA as a fundraiser for it, and NBA colleagues including Kenneth Faried and Nick Young were among the participants. So was supermodel Genevieve Morton. Several of them struggled to name actual MLB stars.

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On June 17, Chris Singleton woke up as a 19-year-old with little to worry about. He recently finished his freshman year at Charleston Southern, where he started 45 of 53 games for the Buccaneers baseball team. Along with school, he had his family in Charleston, S.C., which included his mom, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, sister Camryn, 15, and brother Caleb, 12.

Chris Singleton

That night, Singleton played in his summer league game for the North Charleston Dixie Majors. After the game, he returned home. His mother was at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, where she served as a minister. Late that Wednesday night, Singleton received a call informing him about some sort of shooting at the church. When Chris made it to the church, eight of the nine victims were already dead. Sharonda was one of them.

Singleton could have reacted with anger or hate or sadness. Instead, with the world crumbling around him and even adults unsure how to act, Singleton became a hero overnight.

Chris Singleton And Brett Gardner

The next morning, Charleston Southern head coach Stuart Lake called Singleton. Lake told Singleton the team wanted to get together that night and Singleton was welcome to come. Singleton thought things over and that evening, told Lake he would come speak to the media.

"It was 9:30 at night, so I maybe could get one or two local guys," Lake says of the media. "It ended up being a few more. When he asked to speak, I said all right and it was awesome."

To that point, Lake knew Singleton as his no-nonsense outfielder with a minister for a mother. However, he never expected Singleton to speak words that would calm a city and set a template for other communities.

Singleton, with the poise of a politician, addressed the horrors his family had endured and the memories his mother left. When reporters began asking questions, his charisma rose to the surface.

"Love is always stronger than hate," he said. "If we just love the way my mom would, the hate won't be anywhere close to what love is."

He answered another question: "We've come together as a community to try to get past these things. A tragedy has happened, but life's going to go on and things will get better."

On that same day, the first day Singleton and his siblings navigated life without their mother, the church gunman, Dylan Roof, was captured in Shelby, N.C., approximately 245 miles from the shooting. In a separate interview, when Singleton and Camryn were asked about Roof, Chris delivered remarks only few could fathom.

"We already forgive him for what he's done," Singleton said. "There's nothing but love from our side of the family."

"You just said you already forgive Dylan Roof, the man who killed your mother," the TV reporter responded.

"Yes, ma'am. We already forgive him ... Love is stronger than hate. And that's all I got to say."

In "Love is Stronger," part of ESPN's E:60 series, Camryn remembered what went through her mind when Chris forgave Roof.

"At first, I was like, are you kidding me, like seriously?" Camryn said. "After a while, I prayed on it and thought about it, and I was like maybe this is best because it's just a bad feeling to be consumed with hatred."

Chris, Camryn and Caleb all did what the family says their mother would have wanted them to do: Forgive. Sharonda was a minister and also a speech pathologist and girls high school track coach. Her life was about giving to others, and Chris refused to let his siblings get caught up in themselves. They could sulk or they could go on with their lives.

The most important part of the experience was to show this attitude to Charleston.

"I didn't want there to be -- 'cause you know how there's been riots and stuff like that -- I really didn't want that to happen," Singleton said in "Love is Stronger."

Think about that for a second. Think about Ferguson, Mo. Think about Baltimore. Then think about Charleston. In the face of a vicious mass shooting, Charleston did not unravel. In the wake of injustice, hope was not lost, but inspired. A 19-year-old with two younger siblings was left with no parents with an active role in his life and no closure for his loss. But Chris Singleton told his community to forgive. He told it to move on. Peace spread through the city. The Confederate flag finally came down from the South Carolina statehouse. Singleton kept playing baseball.

"I've been on the field at national championship games as a coach and I've never been more proud of a player than at that moment," Lake says, alluding to Singleton's July 18 speech. "He affected our whole state, immediately, Charleston, immediately."

No, Singleton is not the only reason Charleston held it together in the face of an adversity, but he certainly is an important one.

Chris Singleton Today Show

Fast-forward two months to the day of Sharonda's murder. Singleton was in New York on Monday, where he appeared on Today. Singleton did not know New York Yankees stars Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner and Dellin Betances were waiting for him on set.

As part of the Yankees' seventh annual HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel), the team opened the week's festivities by honoring the Singleton family. Singleton threw a pitch to Betances on the Today set before Chris, Camryn, Caleb, Lake and close friends and family of the Singletons made their way to a private tour at One World Observatory. Yankees players Stephen Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Justin Wilson and Chris Young, along with former Yankee Willie Randolph, joined the crew for the tour and lunch.

"They were talking about how strong I've been," Singleton said of the Yankees. "It's been an honor to be around them."

Singleton suited up in a HOPE Week T-shirt and pinstriped shorts -- the same warm-up clothes as the Yankees this week -- and took a few hacks in the batting cage. After fouling off the first few pitches and straightening out some line drives, Singleton drilled a ball over the left field fence.

"I haven't thrown the first pitch yet, but I guess I'll always remember I hit a bomb in BP," Singleton said when asked after batting practice what he would remember about the day.

Singleton Family And Friends

Chris, Cameron and Caleb each threw out a first pitch before the Yankees faced the Twins in the Bronx. The Yankees also delivered the children a check with $5,000 each to the Mother Emanuel AME Church and the CSU Singleton Memorial Fund, the NCAA-approved charity set up by Charleston Southern in Sharonda's name.

As a child, Singelton lived in Atlanta, where he attended Braves games. He says his father gave him some Yankee fandom in his youth but his dad, also named Chris, does not have an active role in Singleton's life. On Monday, Singleton also met some Twins, notably Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter, and had the Yankees critiquing his swing.

Singleton bonded with Gardner, who played at the College of Charleston. A South Carolina native, Gardner shagged fly balls with Singleton and delivered the pregame check in front of the Yankee Stadium crowd (Lake said Gardner reached out to his old coach about Singleton before Monday).

"This is cool because now it gets out of our state and everyone knows it," Lake said of Singleton's story.

But even Singleton could not let loose with the most valuable baseball franchise in the world hosting him for a day. Sharonda is gone and with that, Singleton feels constant responsibility.

"I've actually pulled him aside a few times and said, hey, make this event about you," Lake said before first pitch. "He won't. It's about his brother and sister. And when he says that, he has quickly assumed the parent role. I've tried to pull him away a few times recently, hit in the cage and stuff, but he won't let go. What y'all are seeing is what he's been like through this time."

In two months, Singleton has become an inspiration for people across the country. Singleton is the kid who acted with the level-head adults have seemed to forget in similar recent incidents. While his legend grew, Singleton went on with his summer, playing baseball for his North Charleston travel team. Academically, he will go on with his sophomore year at Charleston Southern. He will go on mentoring his siblings. No, he is not a celebrity or a presidential candidate or a star athlete -- yet -- but he is an unlikely American hero.

Chris Singleton BP

From his speech on the baseball field in Charleston to his day with the Yankees, Singleton has constantly been called a role model. Hunter, on the Yankee Stadium field, even told Singleton he is a role model.

The only person who challenges such an assertion is Singleton.

"That's what people keep saying," he says. "I don't know if I'm a role model. I feel honored when someone says that to me."

It is evident Singleton is uncomfortable with the attention he receives. Maybe it's because he just did what he thought was the right thing to do -- he did what his mother would have wanted him to do.


Brett Gardner and the #Yankees are proud to honor Chris Singleton. #HOPEWeek

A photo posted by yankees (@yankees) on

From a career standpoint, Singleton is hoping his first home runs (he hit multiple) at Yankee Stadium batting practice will not be his last. Sharonda spent every moment she could watching Singleton play baseball, and she was supportive of his decision to play in college. She was even luckier that he stayed close to home. Singleton knows if she could speak to him now, she would tell him to keep following his dream on the diamond.


At least his coach believes his ceiling is high.

"Baseball is not just a sideshow," Lake says of Singleton. "I really feel he has the tools to continue. You know how the majors are, you have to get a break here and there to move up. He was, prior to the year, a guy who has a chance to play at the next level. The character that he's shown is only going to make him better as a baseball player."

The effect the past two months has had on Chris Singleton's growth is undeniable. Perhaps even more influential is the effect he had on Charleston and the world. Singleton gave peace a chance and he has not been let down since. He preached peace and he is at peace.

Love is stronger than hate.

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