One of the most revered Wildcats to ever wear a Kentucky uniform did not always shine bright in the spotlight. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was comfortable playing in front of 24,000 at Rupp Arena. Speaking to a group of a dozen media members, that was a totally different monster.
Kidd-Gilchrist came to Lexington with a secret — he had a stuttering problem. He recently took a break this offseason to share with the University of Kentucky how he worked with a speech pathologist to overcome his speech disorder. Meg Shake still vividly remembers her first therapy session with MKG.
“I said, ‘What’s your goal for therapy?’ and he said, ‘I don’t want anyone to know,’” Shake told UK. “And I really respected that because that’s where he was. But I also knew that we needed to work together to get him to a place where he would feel more comfortable if it was discovered.”
Hounded by the media throughout his high profile recruitment, Kidd-Gilchrist was weary of microphones. To desensitize him from mics and help him put his guard down, Shake brought a Nintendo Wii microphone to their therapy sessions, some of which turned into role playing mock interviews on the court at Memorial Coliseum. After months and months of hard work, Kidd-Gilchrist was ready to openly share that he had a speech disorder on college basketball’s biggest stage.
“Here I was at the Final Four, and it was one of the biggest stages in sports and not just for basketball, but for who I am and where I come from,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I was ready to speak, and to speak up for myself. I was speaking up for myself for the first time ever, and why I was so hesitant to talk, and why at times I didn’t feel like talking. It was introducing me for me.”
Since that moment MKG has put his speech disorder in the rearview mirror. Once hesitant to share his story, now he’s an advocate. Kidd-Gilchrist is launching a stuttering initiative called Change & Impact, he’s worked with the Stuttering Foundation and has been a guest speaker in college speech communication disorder classes across the country. Kidd-Gilchrist learned how to change lives at the University of Kentucky, and it wasn’t just by bringing home a title.