This week, we are featuring Team USA member Brian Bell. Brian played for the Indiana RHI Pacers and recently moved to Milan, Italy to play internationally. He was a member of the gold-medal winning USA U-23 team in 2005.
Name: Brian Bell
Hometown: Birmingham, AL
Current team (other than USA): Cantú, Pro Italian League
How many years have you been playing?
BB: I started when I was about 12 years old and have been playing for about 12 years.
What number do you wear and why?
BB: From prep all the way to Colliegiate, I've been with the number #13. During the USA ball I usually have #8.
Any superstitions when you play?
BB: I usually have my mental warm-up routine that includes positive imagery, simulation and some distraction control. After that or during that I listen to music, mostly rap and R&B but some pop as well.
What was your first experience with wheelchair basketball? How and why did you start playing?
BB: First of all, I loved sports growing up. My two favorite ones were basketball and football. Once I got injured, went through physical therapy, and got back on my feet, I still played my favorite sports, but now with a prosthetic leg. I didn't have the endurance that most kids have with two functioning legs so one of my mom's friends showed me an organization that provides athletics to people with disabilities. The organization was called Lakeshore Foundation, one of the Olympic and Paralympic training sites in the US. I went to a sports camp on a Saturday and met other kids with disabilities and participated in several different sports activities. The coach of the junior team at lakeshore watched me and saw promise. From then on I chose wheelchair basketball as my #1 sport and put everything into it to become good maybe even great at it. After that I quit middle school football to focus on wheelchair basketball. I still ocassionally play pick-up able-bodied basketball with some friends.
What is your favorite part about the sport and playing?
BB: My favorite part of the sport is proving to the world that just because you get injuries and end up with a physical disability doesn't mean that you should give up on your sports and extra curricular activities. My favorite part about playing is training to strive to be best at my sport by working hard and competing against the best in wheelchair basketball.
Favorite memory? (playing the sport)
BB: My favorite memory is when I was 16, training hard enough to make the USA U-23 team and compete and win a gold medal in Birmingham, England in the Summer of 2005.
What does the sport of wheelchair basketball, particularly in the U.S., need most?
BB: I believe that our organization will get better once we are viewed at the same level as the other professional and olympic sports. By doing so, we can get some media coverage which could lead to more funding. When this happens, we can keep all the top athletes in the states and pay them to practice and train at home.
What is it like playing for your country?
BB: It's one of the greatest honors bestowed to an athlete to represent thier home country and play against the world in the sport they love.
What person in your life inspires you the most? Any role models or mentors?
BB: I would say that my mom, being a single parent of two boys, inspired me the most when I first got injured to continue to strive to be the best person I could be. I was blessed with having top-level coaches from the start of my career all the way to now.
Who is your favorite USA player (past or present)?
BB: My favorite USA player would definitely have to be my boy Steve Serio.
Pose a question for our next member of Team USA:
BB: What is your favorite song to listen to before a game?
(Photo credit from first photo: The America's Cup WCHB)