Tony Snell, a 32-year-old player for the G League’s Maine Celtics, is eagerly lacing his boots to return to the NBA, not necessarily for a million-dollar contract, but to secure eligibility for the players’ union’s premium medical plan.
He is seeking to be placed on an NBA team’s active roster to give him 10 accrued seasons so that he will be able to qualify for the union’s premium medical plan. The deadline for this eligibility is almost elapsing, requiring Snell to be on an active roster by Friday.
According to him, the necessity of this healthcare coverage is not just for himself but also for the well-being of his wife and children. Snell’s two sons, aged 3 and 2, have been diagnosed with autism, and securing such medical coverage, means his wife and children will be catered for.
His children are not the only individuals battling with the condition; Snell himself received a diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum in June, according to Daily Mail.
“I’m like, ‘You know what if he’s diagnosed [with autism], then I think I am [on the autism spectrum] too,”’ Snell told NBC’s Today. “So that gave me the courage to go get checked up.”
Sharing memories of his upbringing in California, Snell said he grew up in a climate of independence and solitude. He added that because he was always alone he “always couldn’t connect with people on the personal side of things.”
“I was not surprised, because I always felt different,” Snell said of his diagnosis. “I was just relieved, like ‘Ahh, this is why I am the way I am.'”
“It just made my whole life, everything about my life, make so much sense. It was like a clarity, like putting some 3-D glasses on.”
A respected two-way player with a strong defensive skill set, Snell accumulated over $50 million in earnings during his nine NBA seasons. Despite his financial stability, Snell is focused on ensuring the best medical care for his family, particularly for his children.
The revelation of his son Karter’s autism came during the 2020-21 NBA season, while Snell was playing for the Atlanta Hawks. The family’s nanny at the time raised concerns about Karter’s developmental issues, noting that at 18 months, he could only say “dad” or “dada” and exhibited specific behaviors such as needing multiple toys at all times, with temper tantrums if one was taken away.
According to him, Karter’s condition enabled him to realize that he also suffered from a spectrum.
“I honestly felt relief,” Snell said. “I always knew I was different from everybody else. Just observing other kids, just observing everyone around me. How they were interested in each other and they just clicked. I couldn’t find a way to click or relate. Basketball was honestly the only reason I had friends.”
Since this realization, Snell has established a foundation to promote interaction and play between children on the autism spectrum and those who are not. He expressed pride in his son Karter’s progress, noting improvements in counting, shapes, and colors.
While in Portland, Maine, Snell is actively mentoring young players, including Boston’s second-round pick, Jordan Walsh.
“I want to share my knowledge with the young guys. I have enjoyment from helping them out and showing them what I see,” Snell said. “I’m at the stage where I want to inspire people and help as many people as I possibly can.”