RAMSEY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Skill, determination and a special operation are helping an 11-year-old girl succeed on the basketball court.

“I feel like I have to impress everybody and I feel like I have to work harder than everybody else,” said 11-year-old Marina Pellicciari, who suffers from cerebral palsy.

Hard work is nothing new Marina, especially at her favorite place: the basketball court, CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported.

“(Overmyer: Why do you love this so much?) It’s my passion and I have so much fun doing it,” Marina said.

Marina Pellicciari doesn't let Cerebral palsy stop her from playing basketball (Credit: Handout/CBS2)

Marina Pellicciari doesn’t let Cerebral palsy stop her from playing basketball (Credit: Handout/CBS2)

Because of her cerebral palsy, Marina’s muscles sometimes tighten when they should relax, which is very painful.

So in an effort to help Marina, pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Anderson targeted certain nerves at the spinal cord and cut them, Overmyer reported.

“By cutting some spastic nerve roots, then it restores a more normal balance to the stimulation and inhibitory pathways that happen around the spinal cord,” Anderson said.

And now, Marina can play in a way that was previously impossible: pain-free.

“I used to have pain like almost every other day, and now I barely have any pain,” she said.

Marina is a ferocious defender on the court and highly competitive, Overmyer reported.

“You have to be competitive, you have to be willing, you have to be I guess eager to do it because you can’t just sit around all day and do nothing,” she said. “You also have to be motivated because if you’re not motivated then you really can’t do anything.”

Marina said she models her game after her favorite player, Kobe Bryant. Next month, she’ll fly to Los Angeles to watch him play before he retires.


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