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Flames Feature: Dream Big Enough --- Dwight Brewington
Liberty junior guard Dwight Brewington is a great success story. Brewington is one of three players at the Division I level who competes with some sort of hearing impairment. In addition to Brewington, who has 60 percent hearing loss and wears hearing aids, the short list includes Ryan Daniel of Lipscomb and Chris Devine of UC Santa Barbara. Daniel is completely deaf and uses hearing aids, and Devine is deaf in one ear.
Liberty's Dec. 21 game against Lipscomb presented a unique situation as Brewington and Daniel had the chance to meet on the court. It is believed to be one of the first times two hearing impaired individuals could have faced off against each other in an NCAA men's basketball game. Daniel ended up not playing as Brewington exploded for 17 points and 10 rebounds in the narrow Liberty defeat.
Brewington transferred to Liberty from Big East Conference member Providence in January 2006 in hopes of making an impact on the court for the Flames. Brewington had already established himself as an offensive threat for the Friars; he was well on his way to becoming a 1,000-point scorer. Basketball aside, Brewington's impact at Liberty has reached far beyond the hardwood.
When the Liberty men's basketball team was awaiting a delayed flight in the Jacksonville airport on the evening of Jan. 3 after playing defending national champion and currently top-ranked Florida the previous night, Brewington had the opportunity to meet a young boy very much like himself.
Tucker Wiseman, 10, of Jacksonville, Fla., was at the airport awaiting a flight to take him back to the Clarke School in Northampton, Mass., a boarding school he attends, after being home for Christmas break.
Wiseman has 100 percent hearing loss in both ears and attends the boarding school in Massachusetts to accommodate his needs. When it was brought to Brewington's attention that there was a young boy nearby signing with his mother, the junior wanted to meet him.
"I remember how hard it was growing up with my impairment," said Brewington. "I wanted to meet him and tell him to never give up on anything and never let others cast him aside because he can't hear."
Brewington sat for awhile with Wiseman and his mother, Kamy Wiseman outside the gate, talking and getting to know each other. "I was blown away by the kindness the Liberty team showed my son," said Wiseman. "I think children like him feel they are labeled and they don't have real high goals because of their disability. For Tucker to see Dwight, his status and how the other players accepted Dwight as part of a team was very encouraging for him."
Brewington also signed a copy of the Flames' 2006-07 media guide and, in the note he wrote to Wiseman was a quote his mother repeated over and over to a young Brewington, which he had tattooed on the inside of his left forearm when he was 17. It reads, "My Dream is Big Enough So The Facts Don't Count, 1 Love Mom".
Growing up in Lynn, Mass., Brewington was taunted and mocked. Children were insensitive and Brewington's mother, Pamela Harrison used those words to motivate and inspire him to succeed.
"I knew Dwight was going through a difficult time," said Harrison. "I wanted Dwight to know he could do anything he wanted to do and that he had to believe he had the power to make it happen."
Brewington and Wiseman share a few common bonds. Both have a connection to Massachusetts, both love sports and their birthdays are only five days apart. Tucker was born on March 12 and Dwight was born on March 17.
The meeting served Wiseman in a positive way. "Tucker has tried many sports with hearing children and the adults are as rude as the children are," said his mother. "Tucker would come home with a broken spirit and a lack of interest in participating or even trying due to people making fun of him. To have Dwight be kind and encourage my son was an opening that I have only dreamt of for him. As a mother, I appreciate from the bottom of my heart what Dwight, the other players, the coaches and staff did for Tucker. The little bit of time Dwight took to interact with him will impact him for the rest of his life. His school called me and he is already bragging about his new friend, Dwight."
A few days after meeting Wiseman, the Flames were playing at UNC Asheville. The Bulldogs' head volleyball coach Julie Torbett has a seven-year old son, Tristan, who is completely deaf. The young Torbett was running around the court prior to the game when Brewington met the boy. Brewington stressed to him the importance of wearing his hearing aids at all times. Because of teasing and feeling embarrassed, Torbett would not wear his hearing aids in public. After meeting with the Liberty guard, he had become a huge Brewington fan.
Brewington loves these encounters because he can show kids like Wiseman and Torbett that he was once in their shoes and understands their thoughts. "I remember how hard it was growing up," stated Brewington. "I tell every kid I meet the same thing, that they should never let someone tell them they can't do something."
Brewington one day would like to help hearing impaired children. "I would love to be able to help open schools in certain areas so that kids like Tucker can stay near their home instead of having to go to boarding school," explained Brewington.
It is quite possible that Brewington will be able to accomplish his goal of helping the hearing impaired through the game of basketball by playing professionally after college.
Brewington, who averaged 13.3 points per game at Providence during the 2004-05 season before transferring to Liberty, has been an offensive threat for the Flames this season.
On Jan. 27 against VMI, Brewington scored a career-high 30 points on 12-of-14 shooting, with the pinnacle of the evening being an electrifying, one-handed dunk on which he took off from the free throw line. The dunk prompted the Vines Center faithful to erupt into euphoria and placed a smile on Harrison's face. She was seeing her son play for the first time since he suited up for Providence two years ago.
"I am so proud of him," said Harrison. "He makes it seem so easy on the court. Coming to Liberty has been so good for him. He has learned to be humble and is displaying the values I tried to teach him when he was younger."
The father of three-year-old daughter, Dantia and infant son, Malakai along with his wife, Gabrielle, is a pillar of strength for his family. A pillar who has been molded by a mother's love and vigor for her son with the world's potential at his fingertips.
Wherever the future may take Brewington, one thing is for sure. He will always have a heart for reaching out to children much like the boy he was. Always giving them the encouragement he was blessed with, that no dream is without grasp, regardless of the facts.
By Vincent Briedis
Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director