Steward Named ABC News' Person of the Week

Steward Named ABC News' Person of the Week

Steward Named ABC's Person of the Week

- Fay is picked as another feature story, this time on ABC World News -

Farmingdale, N.Y. - Farmingdale State women's basketball junior co-captain Tiffara Steward (Elmont, N.Y./Sewanhaka) was named ABC's Person of the Week on Friday, March 20th on ABC News with Charles Gibson. Steward has drawn national media coverage all season, being seen in Newsday, USA Today, CNN Sports, The New York Times, and now ABC World News.

Tiffara has been tabbed in the Athletics Department as our "mini-celebrity". She is a remarkable young woman, a model student-athlete at Farmingdale State and an inspiration to everyone she meets.


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ABC World News Video - Person of the Week -

Tiffara Steward stands just 4-foot-6 in her size one AirJordans. At only 90 pounds, the 20-year-old is the star of hercollege basketball team at Farmingdale State College on LongIsland, N.Y.

Though she may be the shortest college basketball player of alltime, Steward rushes her opponents and runs rings around even thetallest girls.

"The other fans just can't believe how little she is, and the nextthing you know she's knocking down shots or making a steal, orgoing in for a layup," said Coach Chris Mooney.

As starting point guard and a co-captain of the Farmingdale Rams,defense is her specialty.

"My favorite position is point guard. I like to dribble and bringup the ball a lot -- show off a couple moves, maybe," she said witha laugh. "It's a possibility, I'd be a secret weapon. "

Because of her size, Steward never thought she'd play basketballat the college level. Her own sister was turned down by a collegeteam because she was too short at 5-foot-2.

Instead, Steward planned to study business at Syracuse University.Then she got the call from Farmingdale, which said she could studybusiness and play basketball.

"The decision was kind of easy," she said. "I get to go to schooland basketball? And it was cheaper too. I was like, 'Yeah,jackpot!'"

Steward has refused to let life's bad bounces keep her out of thegame. Born three months premature, she weighed just over twopounds.

"The first thing that the doctors told me was that her corneahadn't developed, which left her to be blind in that one eye," saidher mother, Vanessa Jones-Steward. "By the time she was three, shehad already had six surgeries."

Scoliosis left one leg shorter than the other. Some vertebraedidn't develop and she is missing a rib. She's blind in one eye,and partially deaf. But on the court, it all fades away.

"I didn't even know any of her disabilities ... when she came herethe first day of practice," said Mooney. "I mean, I still didn'tknow. She told me she couldn't see in one eye."

"I honestly didn't even know she had a disability when I gothere," said Steward's teammate, Kimberly Blakney. "I swear, Ididn't know. I'm just like, 'Wow, all that, and I cry about abruise. And she's playing with all these disabilities.'"

From the moment she touched a basketball, her parents said thatSteward shined.

"It was, like, evident to everyone. She excelled. ... I thinkshe's just a natural-born athlete," said her mother. "She has a lotof heart, a lot of determination. And we instilled in her that, youknow, if you want something, you strive and you go out there andyou get it. Don't let anything get in your way. Certainly [do] notlet your height."

Steward's parents, both community league coaches, encouraged theirdaughter to try anything her brother and sister were doing.

"When we were little, we never took into account any of thedisabilities that she had. We looked at her as a regular sibling,like a regular kid," said her older brother Greg Steward, 22, now asports coach and teacher's assistant at their former highschool.

Steward has proved her mettle on and off the court. AtFarmingdale, she's branched out from sports -- exploring music andmaking close friends. She has a boyfriend -- who is 6'2".

While the Rams' season ended with a loss in the second round ofthe regional tournament, they showcased a champion nonetheless.

Steward looks up to NBA stars like Nate Robinson, the guard forthe New York Knicks, who is the shortest player in the NBA thisyear. When she graduates, she said that she may become a coach,hoping to instill in others that anyone -- tall or short -- candream big.

"A disability shouldn't be able to stop you from doing what youlike or you love or you just want to do," she said. "Either you cantry it and hopefully succeed in it. I mean, if you don't then tryagain."