Each time Joe Ingles repeats his gooseneck shooting form, his calling card over his five NBA seasons, two names — Jacob and Milla — are shown off to the world thanks to a tattoo on the inside of his left wrist.
Those are the first names of his twins, born in the summer of 2016 from his wife Renae. On the week of their birth, Ingles posted a picture of them and the tattoo on Instagram, along with the caption “I will forever have your backs.”
Now two-and-a-half years later, the Ingles family announced publicly Wednesday on Australian media site Exclusive Insight that their beloved Jacob was diagnosed with autism in January.
“We were rocked,” the Ingleses wrote of their experience of the diagnosis. “We knew what autism was, I mean, we had heard of it. However neither of us really knew or understood the complexity of what ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder] looks like.”
One of the first people Ingles shared the diagnosis with was Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder — “Not because we wanted or needed things to look any different, but because we were tired, really tired. It was harder to turn up those first few days.”
But the Ingleses credit Snyder for being understanding with Ingles’ situation.
“Honestly – we can’t thank him enough for how he has sought to support us in recent weeks. He was strong in his views, that life is so much more important than throwing around a basketball. This support and understanding meant a lot, and if anything it just made us want to work harder for coach.”
Ingles has played and started all 57 games for the Jazz this season, and is second on the team in minutes played while averaging career highs in points and rebounds per game. He’s taken a bigger role in terms of usage this year than any other, as the Jazz lean on him more for his playmaking ability on the court.
Renae’s Australian netball team, the Melbourne Vixens, have also been supportive.
Since the diagnosis, the family reports, Jacob has been through various therapy sessions — weekly speech therapy, occupational therapy, and applied behaviour analysis — spending up to 30 hours per week doing so in the Ingles’ home. That therapy is one reason the Ingleses went public with Jacob’s diagnosis: they want families in similar situations to have the chance to recognize autism early.
“Through early intervention, we have already seen such a big change in Jacob, and there are endless amounts of support now for kids, families and people on the spectrum. Awareness is so important, so we are spreading the word,” they wrote.
And most of all, they want the world to know of their love for their son.
“We don’t want Jacob any other way," Ingles said. “He is our perfect Jacob. And nothing will ever change that.”