Man with Down syndrome becomes viral basketball sensation

Published: May. 2, 2023 at 8:20 AM CDT
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LAKE FOREST, Calif. (KCAL) - A California man with Down syndrome has become a viral sensation for his basketball skills.

Tyler Kihano took on the sport as a way to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now his ability to shoot 3-pointers is shining a light on the man who helped him perfect his skills.

For 30-year-old Kihano and his caregiver, Eli Goldstein, the basketball court is where the magic happens.

Kihano is nonverbal, and during the pandemic, his parents begin witnessing outbursts, so Goldstein was hired full-time.

While Goldstein was first hired as a caregiver, he soon became Kihano’s fitness coach, basketball buddy and enthusiastic cheerleader.

“When we started playing more ball, he’s gotten so much better,” Goldstein said. “So much more agile than he used to be. He’s down 45 pounds.”

Shooting hoops was always a passion for Kihano.

But was Goldstein, who is certified as an adaptive special needs trainer, who helped him take it to the next level.

Goldstein first posted videos of Kihano shooting 3-pointers last Halloween. Since then, the video has gotten more than 3 million views.

On Instagram, this duo is known as strongnable, and they’ve got 26,000 followers. Some of the TikTok videos with Kihano sinking 3-pointer after 3-pointer have millions of clicks.

“Strongnable is a way for us to show that you know people like Tyler, people with all kinds of special needs, down syndrome, autism, whatever, they got they got abilities greater than yours and mine a lot of the time,” Goldstein said. “Which is pretty plain to see with Tyler here ‘cause he’s got a shot I couldn’t match any day in my life.”

All that Goldstein has done for Kihano hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The nonprofit Regional Center of Orange County, which supports Kihano and others with disabilities, has just awarded Goldstein with its spotlight award.

And it is clear that Kihano considers Goldstein a true friend.