Former NBA Player Inspires Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Students

Even those who perform at the highest levels of talent struggle with challenges that change the way they live. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, a former NBA player, spoke to a Kent State Speech Pathology class via Zoom to address the difficulties living with stuttering as an adult and professional athlete.

“I’m honored and blessed to have a name in society, but I always felt lonely because of it [his stutter], even in the NBA,” Kidd-Gilchrist told the class. “I used to worry if I opened up, how that would look. I felt bad. I felt angry. I felt like I had to do all that I could do to fix this problem.”

Kidd-Gilchrist, who last played for the Dallas Mavericks in 2020, has publicly addressed his stuttering multiple times since he was drafted second overall by the Charlotte Hornets in the 2012 NBA draft.

Before becoming an outspoken advocate for others with speech impediments, Kidd-Gilchrist avoided talking to anyone beyond his friends and family  since the first grade. Because of his own experience as a child, he formed Change & Impact in 2021, a stuttering initiative with a mission to improve access to healthcare and expand services and resources for those who stutter. 

“I know what society says about us, and how I get over my fear of that is by helping individuals like myself,” he said. “It doesn’t matter their race, age or ethnicity, they deserve the help.”

Kidd-Gilchrist regularly appears as a guest speaker at colleges and universities across the nation that offer undergraduate and graduate programs in audiology and speech-language pathology. Though he was meant to visit the class in person, taught by Speech Pathology and Audiology associate professor Hayley Arnold, he joined the event virtually due to flight issues.

Arnold wanted to use the conversation with Kidd-Gilchrist to show her students what the reality of having a stutter actually looks like. Because of her direct work with those who stutter, she was glad to see Kidd-Gilchrist shed light on his non-profit that focuses on direct work with stuttering.

“We were impressed with Mr. Kidd-Gilchrist’s dedication to helping others who stutter,” Arnold said. “Both through his Change and Impact Foundation and through personal interactions with kids who stutter.”

The students appreciated his commitment and patience to their area of study. Elizabeth Bihari, a sophomore in the Speech Pathology and Audiology program, helped set up the event and was moved by Kidd-Gilchrist’s testament of his difficult experience with stuttering. 

“I think it's really nice because it helps us see the other side of things,” she said. “We always learn about speech pathology and being a speech pathologist, but it's nice to see an actual client talk about his real experience.”

Kidd-Gilchrist is focused on making a positive impact on the accessibility of health-related resources for those who stutter. While pursuing a college degree of his own, he still plans to regularly attend universities as a guest speaker this year. With more and more campuses across the country offering speech-language pathology programs, Kidd-Gilchrist and his foundation will have a lot of ground to cover.

To read more about Change & Impact, Kidd-Gilchrist’s initiative, please visit

https://stuttertalk.com/change-and-impact-stuttering-initiative-with-nba-player-michael-kidd-gilchrist-ep-709/.

To read more about the Kent State Speech Pathology & Audiology, please visit

www.kent.edu/ehhs/hs/spa.

POSTED: Saturday, July 30, 2022 - 11:38am
UPDATED: Monday, August 1, 2022 - 10:46am
WRITTEN BY:
Mateo Martin