Tony Snell, a 32-year-old swingman for the G League’s Maine Celtics, is desperate to return to the NBA, but not because he needs another million-dollar contract.

Rather, Snell seeks to be added to an NBA team’s active roster to give him 10 accrued seasons so he’ll have a chance at qualifying for the union’s premium medical plan. That healthcare policy mandates that players be on an active roster by Friday to count towards a year of service, and a 10-day contract will not fulfill that requirement.

‘It’s something I truly need,’ Snell told Yahoo! Sports. ‘Not only for myself, but for my wife and my kids.’

Snell’s two sons have been diagnosed with autism, and by securing the best medical plan available, he can ensure that his wife Ashley, as well as Karter, 3, and Kenzo, 2, will be cared for.

But Karter and Kenzo aren’t the only family members to be diagnosed in the last year. Snell learned back in June that he, too, is on the spectrum.

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Tony Snell is seen with his wife Ashley, as well as the couple’s sons Karter, 3, and Kenzo, 2

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Tony and Ashley Snell’s two-year-old Kenzo is seen holding a phone and smiling at the camera

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Tony and Ashley Snell’s three-year-old son Karter enjoys a drink aboard an airplane

‘I’m like, ”You know what, if he’s diagnosed [with autism], then I think I am [on the autism spectrum] too,” Snell told NBC’s Today. ‘So that gave me the courage to go get checked up.’

Snell said that growing up in California, he was ‘always independent… Always being alone. I just couldn’t connect with people on the personal side of things.’

While it may be surprising that he wasn’t diagnosed until age 31, Snell said that the news made sense.

‘I was not surprised, because I always felt different,’ Snell said. ‘I was just relieved, like ‘Ahh, this is why I am the way I am.’

‘It just made my whole life, everything about my life, make so much sense. It was like a clarity, like putting some 3-D glasses on.’

Known as a solid two-way player with good defensive instincts, the 6-foot-7 former New Mexico star has earned more than $50 million over his nine NBA seasons. But while that fortune can provide for most of his family’s needs, Snell wants to ensure that his children have access to the best medical care, regardless of their own personal wealth.

Snell said he first learned Karter was autistic during the 2020-21 season, when the NBA veteran was playing for the Atlanta Hawks. The Snells’ nanny at the time informed the couple that he was showing developmental problems, and at 18 months, he could only say ‘dad’ or ‘dada.’

Typically, Snell said, Karter would need several toys in his hands at all time, ‘and you take one, he’ll have a temper tantrum,’ he said.

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Tony Snell now plays for the G League’s Maine Celtics, where he also serves as a mentor

Seeing Karter’s diagnosis process helped Snell realize that he, too, was likely on the spectrum.

‘I honestly felt relief,’ Snell said. ‘I always knew I was different from everybody else. Just observing other kids, just observing everyone around me. How they were interested in each other and they just clicked. I couldn’t find a way to click or relate. Basketball was honestly the only reason I had friends.’

These days Snell has his own foundation aimed at helping ‘kids on the spectrum and kids not on the spectrum play together, interact,’ he told Yahoo.

He’s also proud to say that Karter’s development has improved, and he can now count as high as 20 and has a firm grasp on shapes and colors.

Snell is also using his time in Portland, Maine to mentor young players, such as Boston’s second-round pick, Jordan Walsh.

‘I want to share my knowledge with the young guys. I have enjoyment from helping them out and showing them what I see,’ Snell said. ‘I’m at the stage where I want to inspire people and help as many people as I possibly can.’

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