Athletes with Learning Disabilities

Many of our kids idolize professional athletes. They spend hours upon hours watching those sports stars score, leap, dive, and tackle their way to Super Bowl titles, Olympic gold medals, Heisman Trophies, and World Series record books. What they don’t see are the years and years of hard work to get there. The hours spent practicing. The sweat and tears. The sacrifices. The failing. The trying and trying again. The falling down and getting back up again.

And for many athletes, we don’t see the years of struggle in school due to learning disabilities. Learning disabilities are not handicaps; rather, having a learning disability simply means that some people’s brains work differently than others. They don’t learn in typical ways. They learn differently.

Here are some professional athletes who have struggled with learning disabilities.

Michael Phelps, Olympic swimmer and record-breaking medalist has long dealt with ADHD.

Michael Phelps’ mom, Debbie, told, a site dedicated to providing strategies and support for ADHD & LD, that after Michael was diagnosed with ADHD, “It made me want to prove everyone wrong. I knew that, if I collaborated with Michael, he could achieve anything he set his mind to.” Michael and his mother worked together with teachers to help him meet with success in school.

Simone Biles, Olympic gymnast, hailed as the best gymnast of all-time, has ADHD and this summer, she tweeted:

Having ADHD, and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of nothing that I’m afraid to let people know.

Biles’ tweet, sent to her hundreds of thousands of followers, resulted in a flurry of responses from people saying that they, too, have ADHD and support her confidence in sharing.

Michelle Carter, Olypmic shot putter, has ADHD and dyslexia.

Carter told ESPN, “I could not sit down long enough to study.” Eventually, though, Carter found success in school with the help of tutors and found a sport in which she excelled: shot put. Her hard work and dedication resulted in a place on the U.S. national team and a scholarship to college.

Other professional athletes who have learning disabilities are:

  • Justin Gatlin, professional track star and Olympian, has ADD.
  • Tim Tebow, professional baseball player and professional football player, has a form of dyslexia.
  • Magic Johnson, former professional basketball player for LA Lakers, has dyslexia and ADD.
  • Chris Kaman, professional basketball player, was diagnosed with ADHD and also language processing disorder.
  • Brandon Knight, professional basketball player, has visual/ special processing issues.

Omega Learning® Center understands that every child is different and that each child learns a different way.  Omega accommodates to students who have a learning disabilities including visual and auditory processing disorders, dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADD/ADHD, and more. To learn more about our programs, stop by an Omega Learning® Center near you. 


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