Lancaster – Ohio University Lancaster Junior basketball player Austin Cox has the moves, ball-handling skills and shooting ability to play basketball with the best of them. That's why many people are stunned when they see that he doesn't have five fingers on either hand.
Cox was born with a condition called ectrodactyly. Ectrodactyly is the absence of one or more central digits of the hand or foot.
"I only have pinkies on both hands," said Cox. "My dad had it first. Then my sister, who is older than me, got it and then I got it. So, it's a genetic disorder that started with my dad. They don't know how my dad got it."
But, Cox said the disorder has never gotten in his way. He has been playing basketball since he was a boy. The Health Administration major has been playing power forward for the Ohio University Lancaster Cougars for the last two seasons.
"I've always thought I can do anything. My dad was an athlete. He was my role model growing up and he still is until this day," said Cox. "If he could do it, I could do it."
Junior Pat Blevins and Cox are teammates. Blevins said that Cox has earned a great deal of respect on the team.
"I was kinda shocked at first but then you see him dribbling. You see him doing all these fancy moves and then you see him scoring on people," said Blevins. "It amazes me still all the time. He can do so much, even with his disorder. It truly is amazing watching him play. He is a great ballplayer."
Blevins said no one on the team has ever felt sorry for Cox or given him special treatment. He said Cox has earned every second of his playing time.
"He can probably shoot better and dribble better than people that do have all of their fingers," said Blevins.
Cox said that he hopes to become a basketball coach someday. He wants to show others, through the game of basketball, that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything.
"I try to show everybody that nothing can hold you back," said Cox.
The men's team is finishing up the regular season. Tournament play starts on February 16 in Newark against Ohio University Chillicothe.