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Newest Albuquerque Thunderbird Hopes to Become the NBA's First Deaf Player

By Glen Rosales
Copyright 2008 Albuquerque Journal; For the Journal
    Dwight Brewington, the newest Albuquerque Thunderbird, is driven by more than most players in the NBA's premier pro minor league.
    He doesn't just want to make the big time. He wants to become a sports pioneer and a source of hope and inspiration.
    "I want to go to the NBA and become the first deaf player," he said. "I'll do whatever I have to do to get there. A lot of people like me, who are deaf, give up on themselves. But I'm not going to give up even when people think I can't do it. I'm going to keep fighting."
    Brewington, who has had a 60 percent loss of hearing since birth, was one of the bright spots in his second game for Albuquerque on Feb. 23, scoring 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting in a 99-85 loss to Rio Grande Valley. On Thursday, Brewington scored 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting in a home loss to Tulsa, a team he was on earlier this season before asking for his release because he wasn't playing enough.
    "I'm glad I'm going to get my chance to do my thing on the court," Brewington said. "To show people that I can play ball."
    Brewington, who relies on his strong lip-reading abilities to understand others, is focusing most on fitting in with his new teammates and coaches.
    And that hasn't been difficult, said forward Jamaal Thomas, a fellow New Englander who had heard of Brewington while growing up.
    "Some of my friends knew him," he said. "They said he brings it all on the court every time he's out there. That's what this team needs right now."
    Brewington briefly went to the ABA after leaving Tulsa, playing in the out-of-the-way town of Manchester, N.H., not far from his hometown of Lynn, Mass.
    But it was a long way from where he wanted to be and what he wants to achieve, so he was overjoyed when Albuquerque came calling.
    Brewington has had to deal with the perception that he's a difficult talent.
    He left his first college, Providence, after two seasons because he didn't get along with coach Tim Welsh. That second year, as a sophomore, Brewington was the Friars' second-leading scorer at 13.3 points a game.
    As per NCAA rules, Brewington sat out a year when he transferred to Liberty, and, last year, he averaged 14.7 points as a junior.
    Then Brewington was on the move again, opting to leave Liberty for the professional life because he has two young children and a wife to support.
    "It was time for me to take care of my family," the 23-year-old said of turning pro rather than staying in school. "I couldn't take classes, play ball and have a job at the same time. For me, I have to do things twice what the normal person does. I have to do things two times harder."
    Thunderbirds coach Jeff Ruland said Brewington has been a model citizen during his brief time in Albuquerque.
    "I've seen him play for a long time," the former NBA All-Star said of his latest addition. "I was aware of everything, but, since he's been here, he's been good. He's been through a lot, but he's a good kid."
    Still, Brewington realizes he has to erase the stigma that he won't stick things out in one place if things get difficult.
    "I have to prove to the NBA that I'm stable and that I'm a player," he said. "They all think I'm unstable, that I'm a quitter. But I'm not a quitter. I go through fire every day, but I'll still keep going."
    Ruland said he sees Brewington being a strong defender with a good penetration game.
    "We're looking for him to be a defensive stopper," he said. "He's a slasher that can go to the basket. I'd like to see him get more consistent hitting the open outside shot and do the little things like diving to the floor for loose balls."
    As a rookie, Brewington is replacing Elijah Ingram. But Brewington brings a far different skill set to the T-Birds than the former New Mexico State star.
    Brewington is more a shooter than a ballhandler, which was Ingram's forté. At 6-foot-5, Brewington can also crash the boards and be an above-average defender. But it's his shooting touch that could carry him to the next level.
    Brewington said he is just happy to be back one step from accomplishing his ultimate goal.
    "I wake up every day in the morning with a new attitude, that it's a new day," he said.
    Brewington File
    HT/WT: 6-foot-5, 190 pounds
    STATS: 7.9 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in three T-Bird contests
    COLLEGE: Liberty
    HOMETOWN: Lynn, Mass.
    PREVIOUSLY: Averaged 7.7 points and 3.3 rebounds a game earlier this season with Tulsa of the NBADL