The fact that Van Buren (N.Y.) High baseball star Edgar Lebron has emerged as his team's most influential and vocal leader might not seem surprising, until you consider one important fact: Lebron is legally deaf in both ears.
According to the New York Daily News' Mitch Abramson, Lebron has overcome what the paper described as "profound hearing loss," to emerge as his team's leader and unifying force. Lebron uses hearing aids in both ears, but has become more confident in his own ability to speak, which teammates and coaches are now crediting as fundamental to his rise into the lofty rankings of New York City's best junior baseball prospects.
"He definitely yells at us if he has to," Lebron's fellow Van Buren captain Elvis Reyes told the Daily News. "We listen to him when we have to. The kid knows how to play the game right."
Evidently, Lebron knows how to hit right, too. In a recent victory against Arts & Business (N.Y.) High, Lebron came out of the bullpen to throw 1 and 1/3 perfect innings of relief after he had already knocked in two runs in a 2-for-4 performance at the plate.
And while, Lebron and his VeeBee teammates compete in the Public School Athletic League's "B" Division, coaches throughout the PSAL said there is absolutely no question that he has the talent to be a standout in the league's higher classification … and possibly beyond.
"He would be the starting shortstop on any Final Four team in the 'A' league," John Adams (N.Y.) High coach Glenn Beyer told the Daily News. "He could play at Monroe, George Washington. He has instincts that you can't teach.
"He does things on the bases that those in college don't do. Usually, people say that baseball players aren't necessarily great athletes, but he is."
Amazingly, Lebron continues to find ways to plug his focus into those talents despite any and all distractions from his hearing disability.
"You would think that (hearing impairment) would affect him, but the kid is an athlete," says Van Buren coach Ed Shectman. "It's not an issue for anyone."
Now, just in time to build up a college profile, Lebron is emerging as the man and baseball player he always felt he could be. Perhaps more impressively,he is aware of his own personal maturation, and isn't afraid to acknowledge it.
"I feel that I'm a grown man now," Lebron told the Daily News, after having a reporter's question translated to him in sign language. "I travel on my own. I work out on my own. I'm a man now, so it's time to start doing things on my own."