LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Shannon Cotto is more than meets the eye.
His senior year, is his rookie year on the Lakewood varsity basketball team. He's not the tallest on the roster, but he is the team's lethal weapon on defense.
Like another sense, mom Nithsa Cotto says he's almost always known how to dribble a basketball or shoot a lay-up. She says Shannon has always been a very active kid. She also noticed something else at a young age.
"Maybe going into three that we realized he wasn’t communicating, and we were told after some testing he was deaf," Cotto says, " A little after that he got sick on me at about five years old and we also found out he had Kawasaki disease."
Shannon cannot hear or talk. Kawasaki disease also puts his heart and blood vessels at risk of becoming inflamed. He goes to the doctor regularly to make sure he can still play sports.
But nothing stops Shannon Cotto.
"I just love playing basketball. I always have. I just always love basketball because ever since second grade I've been improving. It's fun. I really enjoy it. I love it".
Early on his sports career, Cotto's mom realized he needed an assist. Enter Mary Ann Foster.
"I've loved working with him. I think we've grown together. You know I think he's influenced me, and I hope I've influenced him in some positive way as well. After this year, I'm gonna miss him," she tells us.
Foster and Cotto teamed up when he was in sixth grade, and they've formed a special bond. The two came up with ASL signs to match football and basketball plays. She's on the sideline of every basketball game, right next to the coach.
"Everyone of our play names has a sign," says Lakewood men's basketball coach Alex Cammock, "We do things like line, like four across and easy ones, too."
Shannon is finishing his senior year at Lakewood High School. He wants to continue playing basketball and study to be a math teacher for kids who are deaf.
Make no mistake, basketball is still center court right now.
"I'm proud to be deaf," Shannon tells us, "So I want to be known as a really good deaf basketball player".
No matter where he takes his skills, Foster and Cotto's mom will be cheering him on from the sidelines.
"This guy has beat all my odds and amazed me on so many levels. I'm proud of him. We never raised him to be and treated him disabled," mom says.
Foster agrees, adding: "I hope he stays Shannon".