Lawrence Guy, as a child, struggled with words and numbers. He had trouble reading and retaining information. He had trouble keeping up with his peers. To make it worse, he wasn’t getting the help he needed.
Guy’s early memories of school are full of angst. Growing up in Las Vegas, he was placed in special-education classes in elementary and middle school. The teachers didn’t know how to help him there. They thought he was dealing with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), but without the proper testing, no one realized Guy had more hurdles to overcome.
“In middle school, they put you in a self-contained class because they didn’t want to deal with it,” Guy said. “Like every kid who has a learning disability, it was difficult. If we had the proper testing, we would’ve taken different measures. It was challenging through elementary and middle school.”
At Western High School, Guy turned into a legitimate football recruit. But in order for him to qualify academically, he had to take the same classes as his peers. He struggled but got through it. He still didn’t have a name for his disability.
That came a year later, in 2008, when he accepted a scholarship to Arizona State University. Because of the school’s willingness to help students with disabilities, Guy picked the Sun Devils over several top-tier football programs. When he enrolled, they gave him the proper testing. For the first time, at age 18, he learned he had dyslexia, which caused him to read letters backwards, and dyscalculia, which caused him to confuse numbers.
“I wouldn’t want someone else to have gone what I’ve gone through,” Guy said.
Nine years later, the Patriots defensive lineman is a different person.
Stubborn first step
Growing up, Guy was bullied for being different and in special-education classes. In college, the thought of attending the school’s Disability Resource Center gave him that same feeling of embarrassment.
Guy was unwilling to step foot in that building and that first semester was a disaster. In danger of failing and being ruled academically ineligible, his father was called and a meeting was held. Among the people there was Jean Boyd, the associate athletic director for student development.
“Athletes, elite athletes especially, because they gain so much positive feedback from people based on their athleticism, they feel like they’re super heroes. He felt like he was Superman,” Boyd said. “When you go over to a Disability Resource Center, there’s not just people who have learning disabilities, you have folks who are maybe blind or they have physical disabilities and things like that. … He was fighting it because he didn’t necessarily look like other people there.
“Because he was struggling, we had to sit him down and communicate that, whatever goals you have yourself or whatever goals you have for your family, those things are being jeopardized because of your stubbornness or lack of willingness to evolve your thought process about what you were born with.”
That meeting was an eye opener for Guy. Afterward, he went to the Disability Resource Center and received the proper help for the first time in his life. ASU paired him with a learning specialist, who communicated with his football coaches.
With the help of specialists, Guy discovered how to learn again. For example, he had trouble retaining information with assigned reading. He found out that he had the option to listen to books on tape, which helped him better retain information.
“Before, you’re hesitant [because] of the name of [the center],” Guy said. “You’re hesitant of being in there. When they said give it a shot, I said, ‘I have nothing else to lose.’ … It was more guidance through the process. I could do everything, but it wouldn’t be in the exact order it needed. So, it was, ‘Hey, switch this around. Look at what you read.’ That helped me out.”