You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Hansel Enmanuel Donato, who plays high school basketball with one arm, continues to inspire

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 1/26/2022 Bryan Cooney, Treasure Coast Newspapers
What to watch next
UP NEXT
UP NEXT

Having been born in Kentucky, basketball is a lifelong passion.

Sometimes, basketball produces a story so compelling that you can't take your eyes off of it.

That is the case of 18-year-old sensation Hansel Enmanuel Donato.

Donato has one arm, but for the thousands of fans around the country who have seen him play this season, he is the focus of cheering because of his incredible skillset.

He throws down ferocious dunks, blocks shots at the rim and dribbles around and past defenders.

Donato's story is well documented. He lost his left arm after a wall collapsed on him when he was 6 years old living in the Dominican Republic.

He was determined to not let this stop his dream of playing basketball.

His play has garnered the attention of ESPN and Sports Illustrated, among others, and he is receiving opportunities to play at the next level with Division I offers.

This past Saturday, Martin County made the trip over to the Wally Keller Classic at Charlotte High School in Punta Gorda, where the Tigers were matched up against the 6-foot-6 Donato and Life Christian Academy from Kissimmee.

Donato has faced some of the top teams across Florida and the rest of the country all season and with Martin County being a Top 20 program in the state, I looked forward to seeing how Donato would fare against the talented Tigers.

It only took one play for the Tigers to see what Donato was all about as he stole a crosscourt pass, raced downcourt and took flight to throw down one of his trademark dunks that have cascaded YouTube highlight reels all season.

Martin County head coach John Leon noted how hard it was to game plan for Donato in large part because of how unique his skillset is.

Life Christian's Hansel Enmanuel Donato (24) celebrates after winning the 2021 City of Palms Classic Edison Bank SLAM DUNK Contest, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Fla. © Landon Bost/Naples Daily News/USA TODAY Network-Florida Life Christian's Hansel Enmanuel Donato (24) celebrates after winning the 2021 City of Palms Classic Edison Bank SLAM DUNK Contest, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, at Suncoast Credit Union Arena in Fort Myers, Fla.

His long, slender frame and reach with his right arm make him a formidable defender. His ball handling skills with his one hand look effortless and he has zero fear trying to things that don’t seem possible — but they are for him.

Donato has a deep 3-point shooting range and he is adept at getting to the foul line, where his touch from the charity stripe shines.

GROWING FAME: Enmanuel doesn't 'believe in the movie,' but his legend grows at the City of Palms

NEVER MISS A MOMENT: Follow our sports newsletter for daily updates

He also has good court vision and his lightning-fast passes sometimes catch his own teammates off guard.

What may have stood out most watching Donato play was the intensity he displayed on the court. He has the competitive drive that so many great players that came before him had.

On this night, it wasn’t mean to be for Life Christian as the better all-around team in Martin County won, 59-44.

Unfazed by the loss, Donato flashed big smiles as young fans rushed to meet him and take photos after the game. He’s embracing the fame that has come into his life as he’s become an inspirational figure.

No matter where his basketball path leads to next, Donato has already established himself as a great ambassador for both basketball and those with disabilities.

I can’t wait to see where his future takes him. I hope the world gets to watch him do great things — on and off the court — for many years to come.

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Hansel Enmanuel Donato, who plays high school basketball with one arm, continues to inspire

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from USA Today Sports

USA TODAY SPORTS
USA TODAY SPORTS
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon