Overcoming Obstacles with a Positive Attitude: The Inspirational Story of a “Basketball Girl” with an Incredibly Collaborative Spirit.pink

The story of young basketball prodigy Hong Diem from the scenic Linc Long region in Yunnan province, southwestern China, has moved readers near and far to tears. In 2000, tragedy struck when a devastating car accident left her permanently disabled. The heartbreak from this tragedy extended to her impoverished family, who had lost their beloved daughter at the tender age of 4.

Despite the devastating event, Hong Diem made an extraordinary decision to live a life full of optimism and resilience. Recounting her memories, she said, “Woke up, I was aware of how cold my feet felt. I requested my mother to put on my shoes over the phone. However, she said nothing at all. I only witnessed her tears falling, and perhaps it was a moment I will never forget. Or, that’s when I realized that I had lost half of my body and that I no longer needed to wear shoes, socks, or even pajamas.”


Due to the family’s financial constraints, they could not afford a prosthetic leg for Hong Diem. Her grandfather ingeniously cut a basketball and placed his granddaughter in it, giving her two pieces of wood with handles so she could move independently without the help of others. The ball helped her maintain balance and provided a fulcrum to rest when tired. Every day, she walked to school, a journey that took her nearly an hour for a distance of only 7 minutes. Over five years, she went through eight basketballs.

In 2005, the image of 9-year-old Hong Diem skillfully moving on a basketball spread widely, and her unfortunate story reached many, earning her admiration for her determination. This popularity brought her closer to sponsors who could help her. In 2007, she was sponsored to go to Beijing to receive a prosthetic leg, something that had previously only been a dream for her family. These first steps on her prosthetic legs marked the beginning of a journey that dramatically changed her fate.

After completing elementary school in 2007, Hong Diem had to pause her education due to her family’s financial difficulties. Unwilling to give in to harsh fate, she joined the “South of Cloud” club, a national swimming club for people with disabilities. Learning to swim was initially very challenging for her, but with a strong will, she practiced diligently, swimming 10,000 meters every day for 4 hours. Her relentless training transformed her into a potential swimmer and a bright star representing China in sports competitions for people with disabilities.


However, in 2011, she encountered a significant shock when her grandfather suddenly passed away right before the Paralympic qualifiers. This loss greatly affected her competitive spirit, and she only won one bronze medal, unable to continue to the next round. Pressured by unmet expectations, Hong Diem returned to her hometown to adjust her mood. After three years, in September 2014, she made a comeback and won the championship at the 2014 Paralympics in the 100m breaststroke category.


Reflecting on her love for swimming, she explained, “After school, other students can run and play, but I can’t. But when I’m in the swimming pool, I am the same as everyone else, and this is the reason why I like swimming.”

After 20 years of persistent efforts and many prestigious awards in swimming, Hong Diem retired in 2019, keeping her dream of becoming a coach to help other athletes with disabilities. Her story is a testament to extraordinary resilience and determination.


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