WESTON, WIS. (WSAW) A former basketball player for a Big Ten rival of the Badgers visited the Weston area this morning to deliver an anti-bullying message to students.
Anthony Ianni played college hoops for coach Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans. He was part of the Spartans' 2010 Final Four team. While he learned plenty from no-nonsense coach Izzo and his college athletic experience, it was his experiences as a child that fuels his anti-bullying message.
Ianni was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at age 4 and was the victim of bullying as a child. He overcame his bullies and doubters to become the first known individual with autism to play Division I college basketball.
Ianni has partnered with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights on an anti-bullying initiative called the "Relentless Tour." He now tours the country talking to kids about treating others with kindness and respect, and motivating them to make positive changes in their communities.
"If there's a young child that wants to see a change made in their school, their town, their community, in this state, I always tell them, don't just sit there and say you're gonna be the change, actually go out and make that change," said Ianni.
Ianni visited Weston Elementary, Rothschild Elementary and D.C. Everest Middle School on Monday. He visited more than 215 schools across the country last year. He says he feels his message is having an impact in the schools he visits.
"A lot of the stuff that goes on in the schools after I leave, that's not me doing all that, that's the kids doing that because they want to be the one that wants to see change and they're actually going out and doing it," said Ianni.