HomeBad Ass AsiansInspiring 12-Year-Old All Star Who Beat the Odds Shares Special Moment

Inspiring 12-Year-Old All Star Who Beat the Odds Shares Special Moment

Shea Sakahara

By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent

“I am different.

I can make A difference.

I will make THE difference.”

That’s how 12-year-old Shea Sakahara ended his email to me.

Sakahara is different and yes, he has made a difference.

He’s made a huge difference.

Sakahara was born with cerebral Palsy, but at a young age told his doctor he didn’t want to wear the leg braces everyone in the medical profession told him he needed.

Shea proved them all wrong. Not only does he no longer need the leg braces, the seventh grader is strong enough to play baseball for the Punahou School in Honolulu and is an all star.

Shea is weak on the right side of his body, but has learned to both throw and catch with his left hand as he quickly takes his baseball mitt on and off.

His dream is to someday be the General Manager of the San Francisco Giants, his favorite team.

“I can play at this level because I believe and can tell myself and others I can do it,” he told AsAmNews. “Even if you fail you know what to work on and you can come out next time and succeed. No matter what happens just think that you can affect other lives with this decision. You can decide to quit and just be done or you can march through adversity and inspire others. You don’t have to have a disability to help inspire others. You can be anyone to be able to help. It can be a little. It can be a lot. Don’t do it because someone is watching, do it out of the good in your heart. You never know what could happen. Dreams do come true.”

Yes, they do.

In fact some might says his condition has been harder on his parents than it has been on Shea.

His father Tim told AsAmNews it was “the worst day” of his life when doctors told him his then one-year-old son had cerebral palsy.

Mom Karisse naturally had a similar reaction.

“I worried. Maybe I even panicked,” she said to AsAmNews. “I definitely cried. Fortunately, Tim never says never, and his strength taught me to embrace the challenge and focus on all that was possible.”

That can do attitude learned from his parents has served Shea will. He is a motivational speaker and is invited to address other kids with disabilities as well as at-risk youth.

“Shea tackled every task head-on, sometimes literally,” said his mom. “He never moved slowly. He never moved tenuously. Even with leg braces! From the beginning, he also made it clear that he did NOT want to be treated differently from everyone else. He didn’t want easier tasks. He didn’t want special treatment. In fact, he started to dislike therapy because it meant missing out on class. He worked his way out of one leg brace by mid-Kindergarten. Then, by second grade, he actually practiced an argumentative speech to convince his doctor that he didn’t need any leg braces. And guess what, it worked.”

He began playing baseball at age 7. His dad admits he was a bit skeptical and discussed it with Shea’s doctor before allowing him to play.

“Seeing him in his first uniform made me so proud,” said Tim. “Then he got his first hit and I just cried. It was a very emotional moment.”

Shea’s story was recently profiled on KITV in Honolulu.

The media fraternity is a small one. Both Karisse and Tim formerly worked in the news media. Larry Beil, sports director at ABC7 in San Francisco, used to work in Honolulu. Somehow Shea’s story reach Beil and he brought Shea’s story to the attention of the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants knew they wanted to give Shea something special.

One day a package arrived at Shea’s home with the return address of 24 Willie Mays Plaza. Any Giants fan knows that’s the address of AT&T Park, the home of the Giants.
Shea Sakahara
“When I saw the package with my name on it and the return address I was shocked,” said Shea. “At first I thought I was dreaming and I was about to wake up but if it was a dream I was hoping that my alarm wouldn’t go off and I would get to see the end.

He opened the package. There was a letter inside. He began reading it aloud. Tears welled up in his eyes and then began pouring down his cheeks.

“Dear Shea,” he read. “We recently saw a news story about you and your baseball career, and an idea of a serious…” Shea had to stop to compose himself and wipe away the tears. “San Francisco Giants,” he continued as his voice quivered with emotion. “I was so glad to hear you love to play baseball and put in hard work like the Giants players do. Your drive and dedication is apparent and we love seeing that a man as strong as you is a Giants fan.”

Inside the box was an autographed baseball of his favorite player, All Star catcher Buster Posey. There was also numerous other Giants souvenirs and a Giants jersey with Shea’s name embroidered on the back.

“My reaction to the letter was pure joy. I never realized that people from the San Francisco Giants could see my story and do something like that.”

“We were always die-hard fans, but the Giants feel more like family,” said dad. “Thank you San Francisco Giants!”

AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart.  We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. You can show your support by liking our Facebook page at  www.facebook.com/asamnews, following us on Twitter, sharing our stories, interning or joining our staff.


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