By Myah Christenson
He moves swiftly on the court, whether he’s side stepping an opponent or dribbling down for a lay-up.
He does this all quickly with few pauses to decide his next move.
If you weren’t looking closely, you wouldn’t notice that SJU senior, John Oliver, only has one hand.
“If you know anything about SJU, you know of John Oliver. J.O. is what they call him,” Justice Newman, friend and teammate said.
It isn’t every day that you come across a talented basketball player with only one hand.
Oliver has been playing basketball since he was four years old. His position as power forward allows him to work around the rim and in the post.
“Most of my life, even though I was treated normally I’ve come up to people who tell me certain things I’m not gonna be able to do,” Oliver said. “I’ve just got that enough times that I use basketball as a way to prove people wrong. Like hey, even though this is my situation I can still go out and compete with others at a higher level.”
Oliver was born with only one hand due to his twin sister laying against him in the womb. This is something that could have limited him greatly, but he doesn’t allow it to.
“Anything I’m not able to do well at the time I just put the time in, work at it and I’m able to do it,” Oliver said. “I make sure I’m able to do any role on the court. Any setback that presents itself I just work hard.”
With such a positive attitude, it makes sense that Oliver has accomplished so much in his basketball career.
“He’s the man. Some athletes might get too much credit for what they do on the field or court but aren’t great people off but Oliver backs it up,” SJU senior and Oliver’s roommate Cody Wald said. “He’ll be good on the court and people will compliment him but he’s super humble and will still hang out with anybody no matter if they’re athletes or non-athletes. People look at him as a role model.”
Besides playing basketball, Oliver is the Co-CEO of his company The Cause International which gives back to different causes such as breast cancer awareness, The Boys and Girls Club and homelessness. This past spring he visited Guatemala where they gave back $15,000 for school supplies, after school programs, sports equipment and installed water filters.
“He gives back. He’s just a go getter,” Newman said.
Whether he’s dribbling down the court or giving back to the community, Oliver does it with stride.
“I’m the most proud of him for balancing school and basketball at the same time and social life. He works really hard with his studies and playing basketball and it shows on the court and in school,” Wald said.
“Since I was little growing up, my dad, cousins, teammates everyone I played with never treated me like I had a disability so I never played like it. I just knew I had to play a little harder than everyone else,” Oliver said.
Playing a little harder than everyone else has paid off, but Oliver is ready to settle down.
“I’m ready to hang up my jersey after this season,” Oliver said. “It hasn’t hit me yet and I haven’t really thought about it much but I’m ready to be an old man after this season is done.”