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At 10, Kevin lost his father to melanoma. Jodi remarried, to Jim Jarnagin, making Kevin the youngest child in a Brady Bunch family with five siblings, all of whom can tell you that only two things have stymied their baby brother: guitars and monkey bars.
"It seems a little unfair," Kevin says, "but I'm happy with what God gave me."
God is still giving, to judge by the boy's growth plate. By seventh grade, when Kevin was cut from the school team and turned to AAU ball, his feet were growing two sizes a year. (He now wears a size 17.) In eighth grade he was palming the ball and dunking. His oversized right hand, which looks as big as a novelty foam finger, is known around town as the Mitt. With it he catches passes, makes steals and gathers rebounds. "It's like a lacrosse stick," says teammate Nick Johansen.
None of which Collins knew when he left Richmond ( Calif.) High—the school featured in Coach Carter—to take the job at Amador Valley. "At Richmond we had one guy going to Indiana, one to USF," says Collins. "In my first meeting at Amador, I find out we have a kid with one arm."
Then he heard the stories: In one jayvee game last year Kevin had 20 blocks. In another he intercepted a pass, dribbled the length of the floor and dunked. He scored the winning basket with less than a second left against archrival Foothill High. "A lot of people think it would be unfair if he had two arms," says Johansen.
This year, as a varsity starter, Kevin blocked the first five shots in a game against Livermore. He leads the strong East Bay Athletic League with seven rejections a game. No one escapes the Long Arm of the Laue.
He runs the floor like a gazelle. "He shoots free throws like he's pitching dimes into plates at the fair," says Collins. Kevin is averaging four points and five rebounds while playing 23 minutes a game. But he's only 16, with a soft hook, a 10-foot jump shot and another inch and a half to grow. "Can he play D-II or D-III?" says Collins. "Absolutely."
What's more, Kevin has a 3.5 GPA—and a course load that includes algebra and ceramics, in which he works the potter's wheel like Demi Moore in Ghost. Teammates marvel when Kevin buttons his shirt. His shoe-tying is performance art. He cuts meat like a Benihana chef.
"The only thing that really bothers me," he says, "is that I won't have a left hand [for a wedding ring] when I get married."
And that's all. There's only one thing you can do for Kevin Laue that he can't do for himself: applaud.