Rising local basketball star inspires other

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There's a middle school basketball player making a name for herself each time she steps on the court.

Coaches compare the rising 7th grader to high school athletes.

In a game where strong fingers and hands are crucial to performance, Savannah Scruggs handles the ball better than most players even though she was born with only one fully developed hand.

There's no rest for the 12-year-old this summer.

She trains hard, building her strength and endurance in the gym.

Her workout routine is a challenge even for the best of athletes.

"I have to really work really, really hard. I have to push myself to continue to keep growing so that I could be better and continue to grow and get better," Scruggs said.

She puts in the work at the gym so that she can shine on the basketball court.

"When I first saw her I was like, 'This lady is incredible.' She's not only a great athlete, but she's an athlete who had advanced adversities," personal trainer Sherika Holmes said.

"The thing that I remember most is the nurses all yelling, 'Abnormality, abnormality.' I knew something was wrong when they were saying that word. When I first saw her, they were saying left hand normality. That's when I noticed that she was born with her small left hand," Scruggs' mother, Tiara Freeman, said.

Doctors did surgery on Scruggs when she turned 2-years-old.

They took a bone out of her foot, and put it in her hand. That gave her mobility.

The 12-year-old took it from there. She never let her uniqueness stand in the way and picked up her first basketball at 7-years-old.

"We were at the house, and my uncle just put a basketball in my hand and just started showing me how to play," she said.

Scruggs' left hand never grew like her right hand, but that didn't stop this shooting guard from dribbling, passing and scoring.

"When I first coached her, I never even noticed. She just played, and then I looked really, really close. I was like, 'Wow,' because she can do everything," Scruggs' coach, Mario Strickland said.

"I feel like, as long as you can work hard and put your mind to it, you can do anything. I don't feel like it's a disadvantage. I feel like if you want to be like everyone else, then you just have to put in the work and work hard," she said.

Scruggs works hard, because her goal isn't to just compete on local basketball courts.

She wants to be able to play with the best players in the country.

Her mother says, after seeing Shaquem Griffin become the first player drafted in the NFL with one hand, it inspired Scruggs even more.

"That was very inspirational and motivational for us. We've been following his story for a while, and just to know that he was drafted was exciting," Freeman said. "We were literally jumping up and down. This is just a door that has opened up for Savannah's future."

The future is so bright that college coaches have already set their sights on the rising 7th grader.

"Yesterday I asked Savannah what's one of your weaknesses in having your deformity. She was like, 'I don't see a weakness.' That said enough for me," her mother said.

Scruggs is shooting for the stars, such as college D-1 basketball and then the WNBA.

She works toward her goal daily.

"I don't really like flipping the tire, because it hurts my hand a little bit. I cant still do it though."

A lot of people let their limitations hold them back, but not Scruggs.

She's an inspiration for a lot of of kids at her school, and all of those she meets around the country.