He’s an inspiration to everyone around him!
If anyone knows better than to underestimate a person because of their disability, it’s us! We’ve covered enough stories to know that being deaf doesn’t stop talent, skill and determination. Take Tyler Gordon, a self-taught teenage artist who released a portrait book and NFT, or Nakia Smith who uses TikTok to spread deaf awareness and teach sign language. There are so many people who continue to show us that being disabled isn’t enough to stop a dream.
Meet 9-year-old Keivonn Woodard. He’s a Black deaf hockey player from Bowie, Maryland who just gave his nickname, “Hollywood,” a new meaning. With his new role as “Sam” on the HBO Max series The Last of Us, Woodard isn’t allowing anyone to put him in a box. Being a deaf actor goes back six generations in Keivonn’s family; his mother April broke barriers as a deaf actress and says it’s “overwhelming” to see her son following the same path.
But let’s not forget about his hockey skills! With endless support from his teammates and coach, Woodard just wants to play. “Some of the kids are learning sign language to try to help him, or they just want to communicate more, and it’s inspiring to see. I mean, these are 9 and 10-year-olds that just want to include him in everything, and Keivonn just wants to play,” Coach Pozerski said in an interview. Even the hockey club supports him, developing a light system that helps him recognize specific plays being called or rules by the referee.
Woodard is happy to be starring in the new show but ultimately wants to be a star in the NHL. He told WUSA9, “I want to become the first Black deaf hockey player.” We know that’s right, and we’re rooting for him!
Be sure to catch him on The Last of Us, now available for streaming on HBO Max!
Congratulations, Keivonn. You earned this!
Photo: HBO/ IGN