Motivational speaker leaves LHS inspired

Former college star visits students, shares story

Denise Dalton
Anthony Ianni interacted with students on stage throughout the assembly. Ianni also had a chance to visit some classrooms after the assembly.

Emmy Horn and Megan Hendry

On March 6, Michigan State Alumni Anthony Ianni came to the school to share his story with the students about overcoming bullying.

Anthony Ianni played for the MSU basketball team about a decade ago. He has experienced many difficult times, such as being diagnosed with autism, and has found a passion for public speaking which he now uses to share his story.

Right off the bat, we learned that Anthony was diagnosed with pervasive development disorder, which is on the spectrum of autism at the age of four. Anthony was bullied by several groups of kids at a very young age. They would make fun of his autism along with his height. 

He struggled when trying to stick up for himself because he had a difficult time speaking and interpreting the jokes. 

He then went on to become a very successful basketball player for Michigan State; he made it to the final four in his first year playing.

Ianni shared with the crowd that “Everybody here in this room is looking at the first-ever Division 1 college basketball player in NCAA history diagnosed with autism”. This sparked an applause from the students immediately. 

He taught students what it takes to stand up to a bully. Ianni was struggling with bullying his whole life, and eventually found a way to stop it. He showed the bullies how he felt and proved them wrong. He realized he wanted to make a change and started public speaking after his basketball career ended.

Many students considered his impact credible. Student services chair Denise Dalton said,“ My hope is that each of those students, plus many more who didn’t cross paths with him, pulled just one lesson from his talk.”

When asked about what she thought about the assembly, sophomore Alyssa Tenuta said, “It was well put together and made a good point about anti-bullying, and he was a very good speaker; I felt inspired and motivated when I left”. 

More students at LHS also had positive opinions about the speaker. In a survey sent out to 582 students about this speaker, 93 percent of students would recommend this speaker, and left feeling positive. As well, 63 percent of the students at the assembly said that they were engaged to every word from Anthony. 

An anonymous quote from the survey sent out said , “After listening to the story at the assembly, it made me really question how students are treated in Lemont. I think this was helpful for Lemont students to hear his inspiring story because it showed students the real effects bullying can have on a student.” 

Ianni finished the speech on an inspirational note. He reminded LHS of our ties under one roof, and the family that we are.

Denise Dalton

Denise Dalton

Denise Dalton

Denise Dalton

Dalton says that her favorite part of the speech was the ending. She said,“I loved the way he closed the assembly talking about how we are a Lemont High School family.  Family members don’t have to always see eye to eye on everything, but family members take care of each other, and families practice unconditional love. That’s how I see this place. We never give up on each other, and I am so glad that Anthony said something that I’ve always felt in my heart.”