TULSA - A Tulsa teenager began packing for Argentina Thursday in preparation for World Cup competition on behalf of Team USA.
Karina Keck, a junior at Metro Christian Academy, is one of only five U.S. basketball players playing in the tournament. One one of her teammates is in high school like Keck, with the other three in college.
She also worked in one last practice with assistant coach Ray Bradford.
Bradford started his coaching career in 1985 as the assistant coach for Booker T. Washington's boys team. But in 1998, a motorcycle accident ended his career with the squad.
The crash led him to the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges, where he began volunteering in 2011.
"I said I would never coach girls, but when I came in that gym door and I saw Karina, I said, 'This kid has a lot of potential,'" Bradford said.
Born with spina bifida, Keck is also in a wheel chair, and has been disabled from the waist down all her life. At age 7, an American couple adopted Keck from Lithuania. Now 10 years later, she's only days away from taking part in the Parapan USA World Cup.
"If I didn't get adopted, I would probably be on the streets by now," Keck said while taking a timeout from practice. "I would probably be on the streets by now, trying to find my way, get a job to survive. I was in an orphanage, once you turn 15 or 16 they put you out on your own."
But for Keck, basketball has been just as much a gift.
"If I was able-bodied, I wouldn't be as good as I am today," she said. "I'm glad I'm disabled because I've never reached so far and I don't want to give up now. I won't give up for anything."
After the World Cup, Keck has set her sights on making it to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
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