Chicago Bulls

Former Bull Tony Snell vows to turn autism diagnosis into positivity

The 2013 first-round pick, who spent 3 of 9 NBA seasons in Chicago, discovered his condition at 31


INDIANAPOLIS, IN – OCTOBER 6: Tony Snell #20 of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the Indiana Pacers during a preseason game on October 6, 2016 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Tony Snell didn't play in the NBA last season after a nine-year career that featured his start as a first-round pick of the Chicago Bulls. But the sharpshooting wing has a new focus in life.

In a moving story featured on NBC's Today show, Snell, 31, revealed that he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, a condition he only learned of when he and his wife took their young son in for testing. He, too, was diagnosed with autism.

Snell told NBC's Craig Melvin that he felt relief upon his diagnosis.

"I was was not surprised because I always felt different,” Snell told Melvin. “Like, ‘this is why I am the way I am.’ And it just made my whole like make so much sense. It was like clarity, like putting some 3D glasses on.”

Snell went on to say he's not sure he ever would've reached the NBA had he been diagnosed earlier in his life. It's Snell's belief that the diagnosis might've led to some placing a limit on what he could accomplish.

Instead, Snell shot 39.4 percent from 3-point range during his career. That included three seasons with the Bulls, where his 6 points-per-game average basically matched his eventual career average of 6.1 points per game. In 2016, the Bulls traded Snell to the Milwaukee Bucks for Michael Carter-Williams.

Snell told Melvin that he wants to help erase the stigma often associated with autism. The Today show feature said through The Tony Snell Foundation, the former NBA player is trying to help minorities gain better access to testing and resources. He's also partnering with the Special Olympics.

"I just want to change some lives and inspire people," Snell told Melvin. "I want to make sure my son knows I have his back. You know, when I was a kid, I felt different. But, now, I can show him that I’m right here with you. We’re going to ride this thing together. We’re going to grow together, and we’re going to accomplish a lot of things together.”

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