Antioch High’s Damani Jackson-Wright is an inspiration on and off the court

Damani Jackson-Wright drives down the court. By Michael Pohl.

Damani Jackson-Wright drives down the court. By Michael Pohl.

By Luke Johnson

Not many 17-year-olds can say they inspire nearly everyone they encounter. But that is the case for Antioch High School senior Damani Jackson-Wright.

Damani is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and without his presence at practice, the intensity we have now wouldn’t be the same!” Antioch shooting guard Victor Anguiano exclaimed. “He doesn’t affect every single kid directly, but he motivates others, especially me.”

What makes him a unique athlete for varsity basketball and track is that Jackson-Wright has an extremely rare birth defect called Meromelia, leaving him without a left hand and forearm.

When basketball coach Andrew Riva met Jackson-Wright, he was skeptical initially, but that changed quickly.

I thought to myself, ‘How is this gonna work?’” Riva said. “But it took all of about five minutes for me to realize it was going to work.”

Jackson-Wright played just about every sport growing up, and has always been a huge video gamer He uses the end of his left arm, which he refers to as “the nub,” to stir the analog stick, and will use his left knee to tap the left trigger button on the back of the controller.

But it was not all fun and games for Jackson-Wright as he matured, because other kids would sometimes pick on him for his disability.

Growing up he always got made fun of,” his cousin Cameron Schmidt said, who is a senior on Deer Valley High’s basketball team. “I felt like it was my responsibility and the rest of the families’ responsibility to stick up for him. But now, he has learned to stick up for himself. He shrugs it off and is really strong about it now, but growing up it was kind of hard.”

Jackson-Wright’s has been on the varsity basketball team for two seasons, and has been competing in varsity track since his freshman year. Schmidt, along with teammates and coaches, added that Jackson-Wright made these teams from strictly merit and not out of pity.

His role on the team is not one with a lot of playing time, but still serves significant value and requires leadership. When given the opportunity, the 5-foot-6 guard has proven why he deserves to be on the hardwood by draining multiple contested three-pointers.

He also had an assist that was featured on Cal-Hi Sports’ Top Plays of the Week last month.

Without him, we wouldn’t have the record we have now, that’s for sure,” Anguiano said about the Panthers who are playoff bound for the first time in four years.

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