Lexi Smith Adapts and Overcomes to Star on the Hardwoods

There are a myriad of euphemisms to define the physically-challenged. However, the Princeton girls basketball team's starting point guard defies them all with her personality both on and off the court.

Posted: Jan 12, 2022 10:06 PM
Updated: Jan 13, 2022 8:21 AM

There are a myriad of euphemisms to define the physically-challenged. However, the Princeton girls basketball team's starting point guard defies them all with her personality both on and off the court.

"She works unbelievably hard," says Princeton head coach Brittany Maners.

"She's definitely probably one of our best handling guards," says Princeton senior forward Courtney Dove.

Just another afternoon in the gym at Princeton Community High School, where head coach Brittany Maners is running practice. However, Lexi Smith isn't just another sophomore. She's the starting point guard, this despite playing with just one hand, a birth defect caused by Amniotic Band Syndrome.

"I've never really saw it as "I only have one hand. I'm different than everybody else", says Smith, "as being any different from anybody else. I just went with it. That's the only thing I can do, because I don't have another hand. So I've just adapted to it."

"She finds a way to do everything that everybody else does," says Maners. "Whether it's putting her hair in a ponytail, tying her shoes or stealing or shooting a basketball."

"It's all just something that she finds a way to do it," says Dove. "And she has the funnest personality doing it the whole time too. She is perfectly capable of anything that it seems like people with two hands can do. She's tough. She's got grit. Anybody with two hands can do, she can defintely do with one hand."

And Lexi has certainly proved that. This year, she leads the team in steals, assists, while averaging eight points per game. It's an improbable story that almost didn't happen, as Lexi tried out for Tigers feeder program on a lark.

"When I started in fifth grade, I didn't think I was going to be good," says Smith. "I just tried out just to try out for a sport. I didn't practice before that either. And then when I made it, I was like, "Oh shoot I didn't think I was going to make it"."

"I've never heard her say I can't," says Maners. "It's just "what can I do different?" or she'll just go try it, until she figures it out. That's what makes her who she is. That's what makes Lexi Lexi. The energy and the personality that she brings is what makes her so fun to coach."

Now Lexi's prowess on the high school hardwoods is indisputable. However, it's not the only stage in which she gets a chance to display her athletic abilities. In the fall, she plays both soccer and runs on the Princeton cross country team and in the spring, she also takes to the track for the Tigers program.

"That's what makes her unique and special," says Maners. "She puts everything into cross country. She went to state for cross country. She was all-conference honorable mention in soccer, which is the same season. It's never enough. She wants more and she wants more and she wants more. And you can tell, she wants to score more points. She wants to get more deflections."

Growing up, Lexi's inspirations were Major League pitcher Jim Abbott, who threw a no-hitter with just one hand, and Bethany Hamilton, a pro surfer despite losing her arm in a shark attack. However, like most Princeton basketball players, Lexi's true inspiration is the most famous Tiger alum, Olympic gold medalist Jackie Young.

"She's just like so good," says Smith. "She's just a really good basketball player and I really look up to her."

Now Lexi is following in Jackie's footsteps as an inspiration as well.

"She is an inspiration to our team and also to our youth," says Maners. "Our players are involved in the youth and everything she's all the little kids' favorite."

"Don't let setbacks hold you back necessarily", says Dove, "because she proves every day that no matter what you go through, you can still overcome it and still be a wonderful player and person both on and off the court."

"If I can do it, anyone can do it," says Smith. "Since I have one hand, I start and starting. That means anyone can do it."

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It was another cool, though overall pleasant day across the Tri-State - after only seeing temperatures dive as low as 22° early this morning, peak temperatures ended up climbing a few degrees higher than Thursday's; that being said, Evansville’s high temperature of 27° Was still 15° below average for this time of the year. As for the evening ahead, temperatures will gradually fall for 23° around dinner time back down to 19° by10 PM. A weak northerly wind flow most of the night paired with our crystal clear skies will cause temperatures to of fall back down into the mid to low teens once again - Evansville's anticipated low temperature of 12° will mark or coolest since the morning of January 7th.
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