Human Interest

Basketball player with Down syndrome goes viral for incredible three-pointers

Down syndrome

A basketball player with Down syndrome has garnered a large following online for his incredible ability to shoot three-pointers.

Eli Goldstein was working with Tyler Kihano as a caregiver during the COVID-19 pandemic, and eventually became his fitness coach. Kihano began playing basketball as a way to cope with the isolation of the pandemic, and it led Goldstein and Kihano to bond even more. Videos featuring the pair on Instagram and TikTok regularly rack up hundreds of thousands of views, although one video from Halloween has gone viral with three million views so far.

Kihano, who also is non-verbal, has an incredible ability to shoot three-pointers.

@strong_n_able Another beautiful day for ballin’ ? #fyp #basketball #nba #downsyndrome #autism ♬ original sound – Strong N’ Able

“When we started playing more ball, he’s gotten so much better, right bud, you’re chasing the rebounds,” Goldstein told KCAL. “Sprinting all over the court. So much more agile than he used to be. He’s down 45 pounds.”

People with Down syndrome have been getting more positive representation in the media lately. Mattel just released its first Barbie with Down syndrome, Britain’s Got Talent featured a dancer with Down syndrome, and Noah Matthews Matofsky became the first actor with Down syndrome to star in a Disney film in the new “Peter Pan and Wendy.”

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Goldstein is a certified special needs trainer and has been recognized by the non-profit Regional Center of Orange County, where he was given a spotlight award. While Kihano has always been passionate about basketball, Goldstein’s training helped him become a three-point superstar. After that, he set up social media accounts under the username @strongnable, which he said allows him to get an important message across.

“Strong and able is a way for us to show that, you know, people like Tyler, people with all kinds of special needs — Down syndrome, autism, whatever — they got abilities greater than yours and mine a lot of the time,” he said. “Which is pretty plain to see with Tyler here because he’s got a shot I couldn’t match any day in my life.”

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