Anthony Ianni talks anti-bullying, motivation

Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in News

When Anthony Ianni was 4, he was diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, which is on the autism spectrum. At the age of 5, his parents were told by doctors that they should not expect their son to do much or be much in life. He may or may not barely graduate high school and he’d live in a group home. Ianni proved them all wrong. He graduated from Michigan State University and became the first known individual with autism to play Division I college basketball. Under legendary MSU coach Tom Izzo, Ianni played with the 2010 and 2012 Big Ten Champion and Tournament Championship teams, and the 2010 Final Four team. He has won a number of awards including MSU’s Tim Bograkos Walk-On Award, the 2012 MSU Unsung Player Award, and was named a 2013 Detroit Pistons Community Game Changer Finalist. “My parents didn’t tell me about that conversation they’d had with the doctors until I was a freshman in high school,” Ianni said at the Herrick Library on Tuesday, Oct. 10. “That became a motivation for me to prove them wrong.” Ianni, an Okemos native, is now trying to motivate others, particularly kids, with the Relentless Tour, an anti-bullying initiative from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Autism Alliance of Michigan. In addition to the library talk, Ianni also spoke earlier on Tuesday to the Boys and Girls Club of Holland. It’s the second time Ianni has been in Holland, after a Relentless Tour stop in 2015. Ianni’s tour speeches are two-fold. His first priority is to try to reduce bullying, particularly the bullying of students of autism. Ianni said an estimate 65 to 90 percent of individuals with autism have been victims of bullying a some point in their lives. Ianni himself was a target for bullying due to his autism and his size. He was 6 feet tall by the time he was 11, eventually reaching the height of 6 feet, nine inches. “I had a tough time growing up understanding nouns, verbs, sarcasm, jokes and idioms,” he said. “If you were to tell 5-year-old me it was raining cats and dogs, I’d go run outside hoping to get a cat or dog from the sky.” Ianni wants to increase awareness of bullying and autism, encouraging students and community members in general to speak up if they see bullying happening. “It’s on us as community to advocate for those being bullied every day,” he said. “If we don’t have more voices preaching, what’s the point? If you don’t say something, you’re just as in the wrong as other person.” Ianni also reminds people that they should be careful what you say to do to others in life, since you never know what they could become in the future. He noted that many celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Eminiem and Rihanna were all victims of...

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Inspirational words from an unlikely sports hero

Posted by on Sep 26, 2017 in News

It sounded a bit strange when former Michigan State basketball player Anthony Ianni — who at 6-foot-9 and upwards of 250 pounds is a mountain of a man in size-18 shoes — said that he had battled problems far bigger than he. And it sounded absurd when Ianni, a center on the Spartans’ 2012 Big-10 Conference championship team — now a motivational speaker and the very embodiment of power, courage and confidence — described to the audience of a couple hundred at the Newtown Youth and Family Services annual breakfast and awards ceremony Tuesday morning at Michael’s at the Grove, how fire drills in school used to terrify him. And how he was picked on so mercilessly as a youngster that he would stay up until all hours of the night being consoled by his family. Those who came to hear Ianni speak about his playing days at Michigan State, alongside current Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green and under the tutelage of legendary coach Tom Izzo, would have to wait a few minutes. Because there was one heck of a story which led up to that. When he was 4 years old, Ianni was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, which is an Autism Spectrum Disorder. At that time, in the early 1990s, specialists knew only a fraction of what they know now about Autism — and there was only a fraction of the treatment options and support systems available to the families of children on the Spectrum. So Ianni’s prognosis was rather bleak. “When I was 5 years old, a group of doctors and professionals told my parents, ‘Because your son does have a type of Autism, that basically means don’t expect him to do much or be much in life,’” Ianni began, “‘because he’s barely going to graduate from high school, he’s never going to go to college, he’s never going to be an athlete, and eventually, when he’s done with high school, he’ll end up being in a group institution with other Autistic kids like himself for the rest of his life.’ “My parents didn’t tell me that story until I was a freshman in high school, and that kind of became my motivation,” Ianni continued. “I was going to prove those people and the doctors and all the naysayers I had in my life wrong.” He’s spent a lifetime doing just that. As a senior at Okemos (Mich.) High School Ianni averaged 10.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game and led the Chiefs to the league championship and an appearance in the Class A state championship game, which they lost by one point in double-overtime. Ianni received fifth-team All-State recognition for his efforts, and went on to play two seasons at Division II Grand Valley State before transferring to Michigan State and walking onto Izzo’s basketball team. As per NCAA transfer rules, Ianni...

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Ianni to share words of inspiration at NYFS awards breakfast

Posted by on Sep 22, 2017 in News

Anthony Ianni will be the guest speaker at Newtown Youth and Family Services’  annual breakfast and awards ceremony on Tuesday, September 26 at 8 a.m. “We are honored to have Anthony speak to our community about his perseverance and accomplishments. His story is a great example for all people, regardless of the specific challenges they face,” said Newtown Youth and Family Services executive director Candice Bohr. Ianni will will talk about facing challenges associated with having autism and dealing with bullying. To view the event click...

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Who Inspires Anthony Ianni?

Posted by on Jun 8, 2017 in News, NEWS

Purpose2Play asked MDCR’s own Anthony Ianni to write about who inspires him. He writes: “Growing up, my inspirations and heroes were always changing because I loved that people are not one-dimensional and are capable of achieving success in different areas of life. For example, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is another person who I idolize. He’s a guy who went from being the greatest WWE wrestler to becoming the world’s highest paid actor, and along the way, really showed me how hard work pays off. As a motivational speaker, I try to stay on that level from a working perspective, inspiring as many people as I can. But, there’s only one true inspiration in my life aside my two-year-old son, Knox. This person is someone I have looked up to since day one. This person, who with the help of my mom, pushed me to the limit every day and encouraged me to be great at everything I did. Whether it was basketball, school or just being a great all-around person, this man taught me to give my all in everything that I did. And, that person is my father, Greg Ianni.” Read his full story on who inspires him...

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Ianni tells Sterling Heights Students Get Out There and Make a Change

Posted by on Apr 1, 2017 in News

“Get out there and make a change.” That was the message former Michigan State University basketball player Anthony Ianni delivered April 1 to students at Sterling Heights High School as part of his “Relentless Tour,” which seeks to raise awareness of autism and the problem of bullying in schools across the nation. “Bullying is something we must put an end to, not only in Michigan but across the country,” Ianni said. “Everyone is affected by bullying in some way, and students with autism are at incredibly high risk to be victimized. Our hope is that through my story and spreading our message we can not only inspire kids to take a stand against bullying but also make bullies rethink their actions.” Read the full story...

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