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Michael Kelley Receives Flood of Support Following Varsity Letter Controversy

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As The Mighty previously covered, a controversy has been brewing at a high school in Wichita, Kansas after school officials asked a student with Down syndrome and autism to remove his letterman jacket because he was wearing a varsity letter. The student, Michael Kelley, is not a varsity athlete, but does participate in special needs basketball. However, at his school, students with special needs cannot currently earn varsity letters.

Kelley’s story has gone viral and a hashtag called #GiveThemLetters is trending with people from all over the world voicing their opinions.

After hearing about the controversy, Adrian Griffin, a former East High athlete and a current assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls, decided to show his support for Kelley, KSN reported. Griffin donated some autographed sports paraphernalia to be auctioned off with the proceeds going toward Kelley’s special needs basketball team.

“Donating my jersey, a 2014-2015 signed Chicago Bulls ball and a Derek Rose bobble head to East High’s special needs basketball team for auction for new basketball jerseys,” Griffin wrote on Instagram.

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 12.27.47 PM
Via Instagram

“I can not tell you in words how it makes me feel that someone who does not even know my son or these other students would step out and stand up for them like this,” Kelley’s mom, Jolinda Kelley, told KSN News.

Amidst a lot of criticism, including a petition with over 45,000 signatures, East High School Principal Ken Thiessen released this statement saying that Kelley has been allowed to wear his jacket in the school hallways since the incident, and that the district is in the process of creating league-wide standards for all high school athletes to earn letters.

Hear more on the story in the video below: 

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Originally published: March 30, 2015
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