The MJ of Dwarves

Jahmani Swanson is the best little-person basketball player on the planet. And he's just getting started.

Sabrina, whom he's away from for the first time in his life, is torn about the wrestling. "I'm scared for him getting hurt," she says. She still cries when her sons get knocked down playing basketball with average-size players.

She doesn't think her son is a buffoon, but she knows there's a tightrope little people have to walk in show business. And, of course, there's Nah'ima, who's four now. Her legs are starting to bow a bit, but she's already dribbling a basketball.

To Swanson, the circuit and separation are a means to an end. He just wrapped up a gig as a "stuntchkin"—a munchkin's stuntman—on the set of Oz: The Great and Powerful, which comes out next year. Swanson wants to get some speaking roles, and from there, his own reality show, like Little People, Big World, except with black people.

Jahmani Swanson’s first official practice as a New York Tower, on Long Island.
Courtesy of the New York Towers basketball team
Jahmani Swanson’s first official practice as a New York Tower, on Long Island.
The Towers celebrate their three-peat in Dallas, July 2012. 
Justin Tompkins, back row, far left, Swanson, back row, second from right.
Courtesy of the New York Towers basketball team
The Towers celebrate their three-peat in Dallas, July 2012. Justin Tompkins, back row, far left, Swanson, back row, second from right.

"All these other reality shows that come on, they're not reality. There's something missing, and I'm that something missing," he says, sure of himself. "I wanna shine. I want to touch people; I want people to feel me and my life, to understand that you can amount to anything, whether you have one leg, or . . ." he trails off.

"Whatever you want to do, you can do it. I want to show them the bumps. I want to show them the bruises. Everyday-life stuff. The good and bad, you know?"

He thinks for a second. "I want the world to love me."

ghoward@villagevoice.com

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