High School Basketball Team Welcomes 3-Foot-5-Inch Player

Tristan Willmott, 14, plays on the junior varsity basketball team.

ByNICOLE PELLETIERE
February 23, 2016, 1:27 PM

— -- A pint-sized high school basketball player doesn't let his height get in the way of shooting baskets.

Standing at 3-foot-5-inches, Tristan Willmott, 14, of Hillsboro, New Hampshire, plays as a guard on the Hillsboro-Deering High School basketball team and, according to his mom, he's loving every minute of it.

"He gets out there and tries it all. It's me that tries to hold him back; the overprotective mom," Jessie Willmott said, laughing. "The other team cheers for him louder than ours does and they respect him, so it's been really great."

Willmott told ABC News that Tristan, who was unavailable to comment today, was born with mulibrey nanism, a genetic disorder that affects his growth.

Willmott said doctors estimate Tristan will grow to about 4 to 4 ½ feet by the time he is 18.

Concerned about his size, Willmott said she was initially skeptical of her son’s trying out for the basketball team.

But Tristan was determined, she said.

PHOTO:Tristan Willmott stands at 3 feet, 5 inches tall.
Tristan Willmott stands at 3 feet, 5 inches tall.
Jason Schreiber

"Basketball is really fast-paced and I was afraid the other kids would knock him down," Willmott said. "He said, 'Mom, I can do it.' He's just so positive. We were in and out of children's hospitals in Boston and it’s never gotten him down. He's always so upbeat and good-spirited.

"He knew he may not make the team," she added. "Two weeks before tryouts, they had open gym and he went every day and was practicing after school."

Jay Wood, Hillsboro-Deering High School's athletic director, told ABC News that not only did Tristan earn a spot on the team, but his skills have also drastically improved.

"Tristan is just like any other kid and he's athletically inclined," Wood said. "In the beginning of the year, he could only get it up to the rim. Now, he can shoot near the foul-shot area.

PHOTO:Tristan Willmott, 14, plays junior varsity basketball and is the smallest player on the team.
Tristan Willmott, 14, plays junior varsity basketball and is the smallest player on the team.
Jessie Willmott

"He's an upstanding human being and a great kid overall," he added. "All of his peers like him, he gets along with everybody and he's got a great sense of humor."

In addition to basketball, Tristan's mom said, he was on the school's bass fishing team, has been involved in break-dancing and karate, and is now learning how to snowboard.

She said he's even considering playing football someday.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events