WESTFIELD — When Anthony Ianni was 5-years-old, his parents were told that he could end up living out his years in an institution.
It was 1993, and he had been diagnosed with autism, and it was an era when doctors were still learning about what they would later understand to be the enormous scope of the spectrum.
Now, Anthony hopes that people will see him and the way his life actually turned out as the Michigan State (and Big Ten conference) equivalent of “Rudy,” the ultimate underdog who made it despite those initial long odds.
In 2009, Ianni made history when he suited up for the first time for the Spartans. It made Ianni the first Big Ten men’s basketball player with a known autism diagnosis.
He was not a star for Michigan State as he was at Okemos High School, not far from the Lansing campus. But the fact that he was there at all was monumental for the autism world.
Ianni does motivational speaking now and he also published his autobiography, “Centered: Autism, Basketball and One Athlete’s Dream.”
He spoke to WRTV's Ray Steele about his life and the book, and you can meet Ianni at a book launch party this Friday in Westfield. Watch the interview above in the media player.
Tickets to his upcoming event are free, but you must reserve your seats. You can do so here.