Former Spartan player speaks to Hamilton students

Former MSU baskteball player Anthony Ianni inspires Hamilton students early today during his stop at the high school.

Caleb Topp, Kennedy Kramer & Taylor Castillo
ThunderHawk Staff Writers

Former MSU center Anthony Ianni made stops at both the high school and the middle school in Hamilton on Thursday to speak out against bullying.

The first Division I athlete with autism to earn his degree at Michigan State, Ianni talked passionately about motivation being a key element to living your life.  He relayed an important message he learned from his father: “the harder you work, the more you earn.”   He told the audience that this quote is what kept him focused and allowed him to prove wrong those who didn’t believe in him.

“The message was good,” sophomore Kristy Timm said.

At the age of four, Ianni was diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum, and doctors said he would never be able to play sports, never graduate from high school, and definitely not attend college.  He defied the odds and accomplished all of these things.

“I knew if I just kept looking back at (the doctor’s words), …the story was the turning point and the major stepping stone for me to keep moving on in life,” Ianni said.

From a young age, Ianni was the target of bullies at his school.  He was tall and skinny and hated being referred to as the “Jolly Green Giant”.  However, instead of lashing out against his bullies, he let his actions on the basketball court do his talking for him.

He earned a full ride to Grand Valley State, and eventually decided to walk-on at Michigan State where he would earn a scholarhip his last year.

Now, Ianni is one of the most sought after anti-bullying motivational speakers in the midwest, and he has made it his mission to prevent bullying from happening to others.

He told students his dream is to end bullying and that “you can do whatever you want to in life, if you just put your mind to it.”

“I connected to the whole message on a personal level,” sophomore Alicia Haist said.

After the speech, Ianni met with several students over lunch and signed autographs with his “LYD” or Live Your Dreams logo.

For more information about Ianni’s speaking tour, go to  Anthony Ianni can also be followed on Twitter @AI44LYD.


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