CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCCU/CNN) – A seventh grader became a social media phenomenon after University of Illinois introduced him to the world during a televised game.
Jojo Hayes has loved basketball for as long as he can remember. While his skills on the court are nothing new to his classmates, his deep three at the University of Illinois game has allowed more than 200,000 people across social media to see his abilities.
“When I was little, probably six or seven, I started playing and I literally loved it, so I just kept doing what I did and didn’t let it stop me,” Jojo said.
Hayes lost both of his legs after contracting meningitis when he was 1 year old. Doctors did not think he would survive the procedure.
“Every now and then, you get one of those students that is so special that you get to be a small part of their life,” Danielle Gray, a counselor at Jojo’s school, said.
He sees no limitations despite the challenges that have been given to him.
“I can use my hands. I don’t have legs, but I still don’t let that stop me so I’m guessing that basketball really is the sport for me,” Jojo said.
Gray says that despite the obstacles and challenges Jojo faces, his mental attitude is what matters.
“He can encourage other kids who have similar disabilities and just let them know a lot of it is your attitude,” Gray said.
Jojo is open to embrace any challenge and is ready for the University of Illinois to give him another opportunity to play at half-time.
“I’m going to see if I can get some more fans, even though I already have them. Extra, just so they can see me,” Jojo said.