LIVE OAK, Fla. (WTXL) — The Suwannee Middle School football team hosts Wakulla Tuesday night for the Big Bend Conference Championship. Helping to lead the Bullpups is eighth grader Kamari Lovett, who is playing his first season after receiving a Cochlear implant.
Lovett, who goes by Bubba, began wearing hearing aids when he was three. Ten years later, he received a Cochlear implant. He said this football season was unlike any other, as for the first time in his life, he's hearing the game better than he ever has before.
"It gave me more confidence about being hard of hearing, and I'm glad I'm doing better," he said Monday afternoon at practice.
Diagnosed with hearing loss at three years old, Lovett received a Cochlear implant in his left ear this summer. Now, he hears nearly 35% more than what he did before.
"He told me, he said coach, I heard myself breathe for the first time," said head coach Seth Stebbins. "That's unreal, when somebody tells you that."
A new world, full of new sounds, but the same Lovett.
"He's not just out here. He has an interception this year, three touchdowns, two two point conversions, and a bunch of tackles," said Stebbins. "He was always in everything before. Now he's just more outgoing about it."
A world where he can listen with his ears instead of with his eyes.
"I say it's definitely easier, because I'm hearing sounds I've never heard before."
"It was a challenge because you had to make sure Bubba got everything," said Stebbins of coaching the eighth grader. "That's why we tried to keep him on our sideline. If he busts a coverage now, he gets chewed out."
No excuses, and a newfound appreciation for the game and for life.
"Never take nothing for granted, and be blessed what God gave you and never give up."
Lovett currently has a hearing aid in his right ear. He told us the plan is to get a Cochlear implant implanted for that ear at the end of ninth grade.