Tyrone “Ty” Ellis is the Head Coach for the Stockton Kings, the G-League affiliate of the Sacramento Kings NBA team. Growing up with an extreme stutter, Ty did not let anything stop him from achieving his dreams to play professional basketball abroad and become a professional coach.
Do you remember when you first began to stutter?
Yes, I remember stuttering as young as 4 or 5 years old. My uncle also stuttered.
Tell us about your experience with stuttering.
I took speech classes in elementary school. It helped me TREMENDOUSLY! My peers made fun of me and tried to make me feel like I wasn't good enough because of my visible flaw. I eventually learned that we all come with flaws - unfortunately, they could see and hear mine. However, I gained more confidence and security when I started to take speech classes in 3rd grade. Before then, I was afraid to speak in public.
How did stuttering affect you growing up?
My speech pathologist teacher really helped me get my confidence back and gave me tools to get through words or syllables that would cause me to stutter. It would have had a negative impact on me, but I'm thankful for my mother took notice and did something about it. I didn't have to figure out ways to survive in school because of the resources my mother found for me. Because of her efforts, I thrived.
What have been your biggest stuttering challenges?
Stuttering caused me problems as a kid because it affected my self-esteem. I didn't want to participate as much in class in fear of embarrassing myself. But all of that went away when I took speech classes. If anything, stuttering has given me purpose and confidence that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.
How has it affected your work as a coach & speaker?
My stutter has empowered me to encourage and inspire people all over the world. My profession not only inspires other people, but it constantly reminds me of my resilience of not allowing stuttering to hold me back from going after my dreams. It also keeps me humble because I consistently cross paths with people who grew up stuttering and experienced the same things I did. What many would consider a 'flaw' actually creates a connection between me and those attending my events. It's amazing to know that I inspire people to be fearless and confident.
Do you have any special stories about stuttering?
I had a teammate in Italy that stuttered, he was from Baltimore. It was amazing to hear his childhood stories because I experienced the exact same thing. I remember asking my grandmother why God chose me to stutter. She told me, "Every time you stutter, that’s God's way of reminding you how special you are."
How is your stuttering today? What do you do to control or manage it, if anything?
At this point of my life, my stuttering is almost nonexistent. I took 2 years of speech classes and learned how to control my breathing and understand my triggers. I have complete control over my stutter. If I know a certain word will get me, I know how to get through it with no problem. I control my breathing and I take my time. I do not try to rush through words or hold my breath when I speak. I control my breathing and catch my flow.
What is your greatest accomplishment with regard to stuttering?
My greatest accomplishment is embracing my stutter and using it as an opportunity to teach, help, and encourage parents and kids all over the world. I've spoken at several events and the response from people afterwards is touching and motivating. I love talking with people who can relate and understand how hard it is to overcome stuttering.
What would you like to tell children who stutter? And what would you tell their parents?
You are not alone. I understand what you are going through and if I defeated it, so can you. Remember, "Every time you stutter, that’s God's way of reminding you that you are special." (To the parents,) be patient, loving and empathetic. You have the power to build or erodes your child's confidence and self-esteem. Your child can beat this!
What else should we know?
Growing up, NOBODY thought I would be the person to experience and accomplish the things that I have. I am not afraid to fail because along my journey, I have and will continue to successfully learn new lessons in the midst of a 'failure.' I've learned, all in all, that if we keep moving forward, failure always becomes a success. With that being said, I'm constantly in pursuit of another failure because I know success is close behind!
MEET TY ELLIS
FROM: Dallas, TX; I currently reside Sacramento, CA.
FAMILY: I have a very active and witty 9-year-old son, Tyler, and an 18-year-old, intelligent daughter, Jada, who will attend North Texas University in the Fall. I'm married to Ericka Ellis, an author and speaker (www.erickaellis.com).
HOBBIES AND INTERESTS: I enjoy playing golf, games with my family, and video games with my son.
PASSIONS: God, Leadership and encouraging people to be great. I'm also passionate about being an example for my children to witness me accomplish greatness so they know they can do it for themselves.
From the Fall 2020 Magazine