The Football Star

Vicki Kriazis

When Dimitri was a young boy growing up, his stutter prevented him from getting a word into many conversations. He would grunt with frustration and make a fist with his hand anytime his stutter would cut off his sentences. The words were on his mind, but nothing would come out of his mouth except for a stammer. His parents tried many solutions to help their son – taking him to speech therapy, speech exercises – you name it. The tactics didn't help, and the family, who loved their son deeply and only wanted the best for him, had to accept that Dimitri would have to live with his stutter.

Despite the lack of confidence from his speech disability, Dimitri grew into a successful high school student. He had good grades, he was handsome, popular, he had many friends, he played defense on the football team – the type of teenager many other kids aspired to be. However, despite all these achievements, Dimitri still had the stutter in the back of his mind. Of course, many of his peers didn't mind the way he spoke or even found it to be "such a big deal"; but to Dimitri, he always knew it was there.

When Dimitri was 16 years old, his high school was having an assembly for Achievement Awards being presented to the students.  There were all kinds of awards for academics, languages, sciences, arts, and sports. As the assembly proceeded, the principal spoke into the microphone and said, "We present the award for Best Defensive Player of the Year in Football to… Dimitri Kyriazis!". Students cheered and clapped – everybody knew Dimitri and he was very well liked. As he got up and walked to the podium, he thought of something: "I have to speak in front of all these people – oh no, my stutter…" Even though he was smiling, he was nervous. He knew for sure he would stutter – maybe stutter so badly he wouldn't even be able to speak (all the negative thoughts that go through the mind of someone with a speech disability when they are asked to speak in public). He didn't want to feel any humiliation during this happy moment.

As he reached the podium, the first thing that Dimitri nervously said into that microphone was, "Guys! I-i-i-i-if I stutter during the speech, I'm rea-rea-rea-really sorry!" The next thing that happened was amazing. All the students stood up from their seats, clapped, whooped, shouted, and chanted his name loudly. "DIMITRI! DIMITRI! DIMITRI!" What turned out to be a moment that left him almost petrified, filled his heart with joy and pride. He later said, "the fact that all my friends and peers cheered for me like that, was better than winning the award". He thought he would be embarrassed because of his, but everyone loved him regardless.

Dimitri is my younger brother. I have watched him as a young kid persevere through life with this speech impairment, and become the successful, wonderful man he has become. Maybe my brother will never speak without a stutter – so what? He is still the greatest in my eyes. I write this with him in mind, and any other little brother in the world who is going through life with a stutter. The stutter is a part of you – but it does not define you – people in the crowd will still stand up and cheer for you and see you as the success that you are. 

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