The 2nd annual Angel City Games brought together several athletes from the West Coast who live with disabilities this weekend. The Angel City Games is a four-day competition for people of all ages with physical disabilities. Athletes could compete in eight different sports, including Badminton, swimming and soccer.
Drake Stadium in UCLA housed the 225 athletes that participated, a jump from the 150 athletes that competed in the event’s inaugural year in 2015, according Angel City Games founder Clayton Frech.
Athletes participated in adaptive sports clinics for the first two days and competed in the eight sports during the last two days. Leaders of the clinics included Paralympian Angel Madsen, Olympian Iris Wang and NFL Alumni Nick Lowery.
Along with the clinics were a celebrity basketball game that featured two-time gold medal Paralympian Rudy Garcia, UCLA men’s basketball director of operations Tyus Edney and actor Adam Sandler.
Among the volunteers and supporters were Delbert Cannon, a player from the Los Angeles Clippers Chairmen in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
“You think you come here to inspire the kids, but it’s the opposite way around,” Cannon said.
Cannon was born and raised in the Los Angeles area and attended Redondo Union and Washington Preparatory High Schools. The day after he graduated from Redondo Union High School, Cannon was shot in a drive-by shooting.
He went to the Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center in order to learn how to live independently while using a wheelchair.
Cannon believes his disability prolonged his life, although it took him some time to adjust to it. Cannon continued to play basketball. Rancho Los Amigos assisted Cannon when he applied for community college at Los Angeles Southwest College and California State Los Angeles.
“It allowed me to get free education,” Cannon said. “What this did was created opportunities for me to travel. I was able to join a national youth team.”
Cannon earned both his Bachelor’s degree and his Masters from Cal State L.A. and currently works for the state of California as a Rehabilitation Counselor. He works with people with mental, emotional, psychological, and physical disabilities.
“A Rehabilitation Counselor helps individuals with disabilities get back into the workforce or provide training for individuals with disabilities,” Cannon said.
Playing wheelchair basketball is a good source of cardio exercise for Cannon. He noted how finding a place to exercise could be hard for people living with a disability.
“There’s not many gyms that you can go and get a workout in,” he said. “They don’t really have disabled areas, so [wheelchair basketball] is the best workout.”
Cannon mentioned how the way athletes play wheelchair basketball is not much different than how athletes play basketball.
“They’re saying crude things to you on the court and they’re picking at you and they’re saying things that you know bother you,” Cannon said. “The smack talk is a little rougher.”