“Other Than The Monkey Bars”, There Isn’t Much This Roseville Man Can’t Do
Matt Gifford has a strong sense of purpose- and sense of humor- as he hopes to inspire others
By kncitom on May 28, 2021
So, things are getting back to normal at my gym, California Family Fitness, and that includes being able to play basketball once again after an entire year.
And since I’ve started to go back out, there’s been a new guy playing. He’s maybe early thirties. Good player- solid shooter and ball handler, and just a good dude to play with. He’s got a very quick right hand.
His name is Matt, he’s 39, and he’s been playing hoops since he was five, growing up in Utah as a fan of John Stockton and Karl Malone.
In fact, he’s a multi-sport athlete- he also played football and baseball. But basketball was always his favorite.
He’s got 2 young kids who think he’s “a dork” because Matt’s a fan of dad jokes. His 5 year old loves to go for walks and hold his hand.
He’s a successful sales and marketing director for a self-storage company and besides playing basketball, he loves to waterski –he slaloms– and he plays bass guitar. In fact, Matt says, there’s not much besides the monkey bars that he can’t do.
That’s because Matt’s only got one arm. His left arm was amputated at the elbow shortly after he was born, and if was a challenge trying to keep up with other kids on the court or in field, he doesn’t mention it, although he says it did give him a chip on his shoulder to succeed.
“I still get so much joy seeing the look on guys’ in their 20s faces when a 39 year old father of 2 with 1 hand whoops them at pick-up basketball.” He says in a post on the Instagram site, Lucky_Fin_Project, which celebrates and encourages people like him.
Matt says he’s approached in public and he’s always happy to educate but he says the most rewarding thing is when a kid with limb differences, or their parents, reach out to ask him questions, or just to thank him for leading by example. He’s got goals too: he’s a supporter of Paralympics but wants to start his own non-profit focusing on amputees who, like him, love basketball. In the meantime, he’s content to hit the gym and torch other players with a big 3 or quick drive to the hoop- – including a certain 57 year old radio host. And, he’s gonna keep leaning into those dad jokes with his kids, and letting his 5 year old hold his hand. Not his “good hand”, either. She prefers to hold, as she calls it, his “round hand”.