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Basketball player with one hand gets chance at University of Florida team

By AJ Willingham, HLNtv.com
updated 5:24 PM EDT, Tue August 20, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Basketball player Zach Hodskins was born without half of his left arm
  • The University of Florida offered him a spot on its team
  • His advice to others "going through the same thing": Just go for it

(HLNtv.com) -- Zach Hodskins is one of the best players on the Milton High varsity basketball team in Milton, Georgia. According to scouting reports, he's an "excellent shooter" and "plays extremely hard."

He is also missing his left arm below the elbow. But to Hodskins, that's really not an issue.

Hodskins, 17, recently got the news of his life: The University of Florida offered him a preferred walk-on spot on its basketball team next year.

While Hodskins says the offer "means the world to him," what was nearly as exciting was looking over the reports from scouts who attended his games. Their comments? "Great shooting." "Works hard." His missing arm rarely gets initial mention.

"I love it to see that they've treated me as a player and a kid that can play on the 'next level' first, and then the disability second," Hodskins told HLN affiliate WXIA.

Of course, his coaches already know he's a winner -- on and off the court.

"Every day we have things we go through and we think it's never going to get any better, or we can't do something," Milton coach Van Keys said. "And you look at Zach and you say, 'Hey, this kid's overcome quite a bit to be at the level he's at.'"

Hodskins has had to deal with missing a portion of his arm since birth.

While Hodskins' dream of playing basketball is important to him, he has other goals in mind as well. He said he wants to graduate college and one day be a motivational speaker. He already gets tweets from kids who recognize and identify with him, and they often express their own insecurities about living life with a disability.

"It's just amazing to hear from them, and see that there are other people out there like me who are going through the same thing," Hodskins said. "And I can really relate to them, I love to talk with them."

What does he tell them? "Just keep your head up. And if you feel it in your heart, just go for it, and you will make it."

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