NBA player speaks to students about stuttering

Former NBA player Michael Kidd-Gilchrist speaks to St. Ambrose University Speech-Language Pathology students June 5 in the Rogalski Center in Davenport.

For The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — Former NBA player Michael Kidd-Gilchrist spoke to current and future speech-language pathologists (SLP) at St. Ambrose University about his experiences surrounding stuttering and the creation of his nonprofit, Change & Impact: Voices for Stuttering. He spoke in the Rogalski Center on campus June 5.

Since 2020, Kidd-Gilchrist has shifted his focus from shooting basketballs on the court to advocating for the passage of a healthcare bill on Capitol Hill that supports stuttering intervention research and improves speech therapy insurance coverage.

Kidd-Gilchrist, who played for the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) and Dallas Mavericks, said, “Many people do not realize speech therapy is not covered or is poorly covered by insurance.” He said he did not receive speech therapy until 2011 when he attended the University of Kentucky.


The St. Ambrose Master of Speech-Language Pathology program operates the RiteCare Clinic, the only clinic in Iowa that does not charge for the prevention, assessment and intervention of speech-language pathology services for children and adults. Iowa Scottish Rite Masonic Foundation and Davenport Valley provide funding for the clinic.

“As Michael noted, there are insurance companies that do not cover speech-language pathology services for children who stutter. Part of the role of a speech-language pathologist is to reduce barriers to accessing those services, and we are so grateful Michael is helping to spread this awareness,” said Elisa Huff, MSLP program director for St. Ambrose University.

During his presentation, Kidd-Gilchrist used a tapping technique that his speech language pathologist (SLP) taught him and shared how his experience led to his decision to become a vocal advocate for people who stutter.

“I don’t like talking but I have grown to appreciate who I am and that’s a big thanks to my village. Without speech-language pathologists, many people like myself will lack the confidence I now have. We are on the same mission,” said Kidd-Gilchrist.

Many factors precipitated Kidd-Gilchrist’s mission to break the stuttering stigma. One of his “hardest days” was when Michael Jordan drafted him. “From the outside looking in, I had everything, but for me, all those interviews and questions over and over again were awful and I knew I had to talk.”

During COVID-19, Kidd-Gilchrist paid a lot of attention to President Joe Biden and how he approaches speech and the openness with which he addresses his stutter. That inspired Kidd-Gilchrist to open up.

“I stopped and thought about how I was helping myself and other people. So I made this platform and promised myself that I would travel, spreading awareness by meeting SLPs and those who stutter,” said Kidd-Gilchrist. “I am show and tell. I had to do this and be an advocate around the country. No one wants to open up about what they lack or fear, but we all have something; it just so happens you can see mine.”

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