Ryan Martin is a professional basketball player, President of the Ryan Martin Foundation, motivational speaker and a coach. Ryan was born with Spina Bifida and, at the age of two, had both of his legs amputated to prevent complications with infection.
Basketball transformed Ryan's world from "wheelchair bound" to bound for college, bound for professional basketball, and bound for traveling overseas. In 2007, Ryan joined the professional basketball league in Europe, completing 10 seasons in both Spain and France. This season Ryan is playing for the New York Rolling Knicks of the NWBA.
Before Ryan went pro, he attended college at Southwest Minnesota State University and led SMSU to the NWBA National Title Game in 2001. He graduated in 2002 with a degree in Secondary Education with a minor in Sociology. After graduation, Ryan joined the Phoenix Wheelchair Suns and played in the 2005 NWBA All-Star games.
Along with establishing his foundation, Ryan is a consultant for the NCAA on their Inclusive Sports Model. A large portion of our conversation in episode 103 was dedicated to learning about the tremendous work Ryan is doing with the NCAA to improve adaptive sports opportunities in college athletics.
Below are some additional topics covered in episode 103:
Explanation of spina bifada
Ryan's upbringing and what is was like for him to be adopted into a family with other children with special needs.
Ryan's work with veterans, teaching them to play basketball and their transition process.
"Its not about how you got there, its about how you deal with your situation"
Why Ryan feels his disability has opened more doors than have been closed for him.
The importance of reaching your maximum potential and seizing the opportunities that come your way.
The role of effort in overcoming obstacles.
Rules and regulations of wheelchair basketball.
Why height is still unbeatable in wheelchair basketball.
The unique challenges presented to the athletes who play wheelchair basketball.
How sports helped Ryan build confidence and fit in and how he is trying to pay it forward today.
Ryan's message about bullying.
Why how you carry yourself is how you are perceived.
Current projects Ryan is working on through the Ryan Martin Foundation.
Creating adaptive sports programs throughout the NCAA as a means of creating diverse environments.
Adaptive sports program starting up at the University of Connecticut.
The potential societal impact of adaptive sports.
Staying healthy in the sport of wheelchair basketball and maximising longevity.