Marcell Dinsmore learned at a young age that people can be too eager to judge a book by its cover. The Milwaukee high school senior was born with a birth defect that stunted the development of his hands. He has three fingers on his right hand, an index finger, pinky and thumb, and only a thumb on his left hand. It made him a target for bullies growing up. He still remembers some of the taunts other kids hurled at him. “You’re weird. You’re not like me. You’re not normal. Why did God make you that way?” Dinsmore said.
His mom Marcella Miller always made sure she had the last word. “You are something special. You’re going to turn out to be something one day,” Miller said. Dinsmore was determined to prove his mom right. He channeled that energy into basketball, his favorite sport. He spent hours in the gym with family members learning how to play the game.
Dinsmore would attend Ronald Reagan High School in Milwaukee. His sophomore year, students had the opportunity to join Solomon Juneau High School’s basketball team through a cooperative arrangement to bring in a few extra players to play under coach Aaron Spiering. Dinsmore was one of them, and he’d make a big difference.
“I’d never seen him play. I didn’t know his work ethic. I just knew he was a kid who that came from Reagan that wanted to play basketball,” Spiering said. Dinsmore finally felt like he could spend more time shooting hoops than jumping through them. His work ethic was a gift for the upstart basketball program.
“If the drills get a little slow in practice, he picks them up. If we need that little extra intensity, he brings it to the floor,” Spiering said. “As a program, you need that guy.”
The team followed in Dinsmore’s footsteps. He was named team captain his senior year. He proved he could compete on the practice floor. He’d also prove it during the games.
“Oh, it’s amazing. It’s amazing to see people underestimate him. And then he gets on the floor and just kills you,” Spiering said. “It’s just fun to watch.”
A Juneau basketball program that once struggled to win a single game finished with ten victories Dinsmore’s senior year. He was one of five players voted Second Team All-Conference in the Milwaukee City Blue Division. Dinsmore had proved his mom right. “It’s great because I’ve seen where he started from, which was the bottom, and I feel like now he’s at the top,” Miller said.
He had developed into a good basketball player, but he had also developed into a leader. “Five years from now, ten years from now, if I’m still here and if the program’s still running strong, it’s going to be a result of what Marcell has done to this program this year,” Spiering said. “The kids who are going to come back next year have been instilled with that work ethic that Marcell has brought every day.”
Dinsmore plans to major in sports marketing and minor in athletic training at UW-Milwaukee. No matter where his career takes him, he’ll be near the game he loves. He now realizes that even though some people will always judge a book by its cover, he’s the only one writing his story on the pages inside.
“If people look at me funny or something, I just keep it moving. Keep it straight, because like it happened. I can’t change it. It’s not like I can go put on a mask or go put on a regular arm or fingers. It’s like, no matter how you look at me, tomorrow I’m going to be the same,” Dinsmore said, “Don’t let others really like, knock you down or get you off your path, the path you want to go in.”