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Michael Kidd-Gilchrist opens up about overcoming speech disorder while at UK

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffered from a speech disorder during his time in Lexington and has since worked on helping others just like him.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Final Four - Championship Set Number: X154603 TK1 R1 F50

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is one of the most beloved Kentucky Wildcats players of all-time.

The energetic, defensive-minded small forward from New Jersey was the first commitment of the 2011 recruiting class for Kentucky, then the No. 1 player in his class at the time of his commitment.

When he got to Lexington, MKG was a rockstar, but there was a problem that many fans did not know about - MKG struggled with a speech disorder. Stuttering.

MKG had suffered from stuttering, which affects about 1% of the population, and was taking speech-therapy during his time at Kentucky. Kidd-Gilchrist worked with speech pathologist Meg Shake to work through the disorder.

“I said, ‘What’s your goal for therapy?’ and he said, ‘I don’t want anyone to know,’” Shake told UKNow writer Allison Perry.

“There were times I had walked into therapy, and I’m like, man, this is like class,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “But she made it more and more like it was like I was part of her family … she helped me, in a tremendous way, to even embrace myself.”

Shake and Kidd-Gilchrist kept up the speech therapy for ten months, with Kidd-Gilchrist revealing at the 2012 Final Four that he suffered from stuttering.

“Here I was at the Final Four, and it was one of the biggest stages in sports and not just for basketball, but for who I am and where I come from,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I was ready to speak, and to speak up for myself. I was speaking up for myself for the first time ever, and why I was so hesitant to talk, and why at times I didn’t feel like talking. It was introducing me for me.”

Since his time at the University of Kentucky, Kidd-Gilchrist has worked with the Stuttering Foundation, spoken to college speech communication disorder classes, hosted a webinar in the fall of 2020 with the UK College of Health Sciences about his experiences as a person who suffers from stuttering, and is launching a stuttering initiative called Changed and Impact within the next month.

To read more about Kidd-Gilchrist’s difficulties and triumphs with stuttering, please read Allison Perry’s piece on Wildcat great.