For most children, education has a central role in their development and growth. But that was not true for Giuseppe, a young boy from Milan who did not attend school because it was not a priority for his family. And to make his childhood even more challenging, Giuseppe was born deaf.
He wanted to learn so many things, but instead, from a very young age, he spent his days in a shack, often completely alone. Then, at the age of nine, his mother left him a sheet of paper with the letters of the alphabet, and Giuseppe spent hours teaching himself, passing his afternoons copying them down time after time.
One rainy afternoon, a member of the local community saw Giuseppe sitting on the ground, reciting these letters with commitment and dedication, and so much hope in his eyes. Eyes that had seen so much, and compensated for what he could not hear because of his deafness by expressing everything he had learned.
That chance meeting changed Giuseppe's life. Now, he goes to school, following all the lessons with curiosity and participation, and showing that when things are done from the heart, everything is possible.
As part of his school studies, last season Giuseppe took part in the 'Basket For Good' project, a local community initiative organised by AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan as part of One Team, Euroleague Basketball's social responsibility program.
He loved all the activities, regularly looking at the teacher, one of his guardian angels, and smiling as if to say: "Look at what I am doing, look how good I am!"
He embodies how sport is for those who never give up, doing amazing things with the ball as he participates in relays and shooting competitions, supported by his companions, who are in turn infected by his desire to learn.
Giuseppe, now 10, had to teach himself the alphabet but now, thanks to One Team, he is learning the ABCs of basketball, allowing him to write the special story of a magical child who always felt he could fly.
Milan's One Team Coach Marilisa Zanini said:
"I think giving children this kind of experience is very rewarding. Through this project, the children have the opportunity to discover sport and try to overcome their limitations, improving both on and off the court.
"Basketball allows you to make new friendships, and with One Team the children have learned that through sport you can grow despite difficulties. Everything is possible if you just want it enough."
Michele Samaden, another One Team Coach for the Italian club, added:
"One Team is a great opportunity to get away from difficult situations of everyday life and feel part of a big family. Sharing the sport and in particular the ball means sharing one's emotions. It doesn't matter if you are tall, short, if you know how to play or not. What matters is to be comfortable with others and discover that each of us is important and has so much to give."
One Team, supported by Turkish Airlines as the One Team Founding Patron and with the collaboration of Special Olympics as Proud Partner, uses basketball to achieve real social impact in our communities. Since its founding in 2012, the One Team program has reached already directly and indirectly 16,000 participants through its various team projects.