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Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- The lives of champion UFC fighter Ronda Rousey and speech pathologist and mom Laura Smith might seem worlds apart, but the two women share a unique connection.

Smith and her 5-year-old daughter, Ashlynn, met Rousey, 28, this spring at a book signing in Denver for Rousey's autobiography, My Fight/Your Fight.

Smith told ABC News she was on a mission to meet Rousey in order to find out if the speech disorder she had as a child was the same condition that her daughter, Ashlynn, has.

“I read probably everything she’s ever said about her speech impediment and the more I read I was like, ‘That was apraxia. This is apraxia,’” Smith recalled.

Childhood apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder where the brain has problems coordinating with the body parts -- like lips, jaw and tongue -- needed for speech, according to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

“At first I was tested for deafness,” Rousey said of her own childhood struggle. “They thought maybe my pronunciation was off because I was hearing things differently.”

“But it was really I had all these words perfectly arranged in my head, it’s just when they tried to come out of my mouth they sounded different,” she said. “It was kind of like there was a divide between my brain and my mouth.”

Because apraxia was not a common diagnosis when Rousey was a child, no one suspected it was what was behind the fighter’s speech problems. That is, until Smith gave Rousey a brochure on apraxia at the book signing.

“I threw the brochure and the bodyguards came in immediately to get it,” Smith said. “She [Rousey] picked it up and I was like, ‘If you did have it, would you say it in your interviews because it would mean so much for our kids.’”

Rousey says the information in the brochure struck her instantly.

“I actually ended up reading through the whole thing that night and was like, ‘Oh my God, this is all exactly it. This is exactly what it was,’” Rousey said. “I didn’t know it was actually apraxia until that moment.”

“She really taught me a lot about myself that day and I can’t thank her enough for it,” Rousey said of Smith.

To thank Smith and her daughter, Rousey sent a special message, doing exactly what Smith asked her to do at the book signing, talking about apraxia.

“Hi Laura and Ashlynn,” Rousey said in the taped message. “I just wanted to say I’m so happy to hear everything that you’re doing to raise awareness of apraxia.”

“You definitely raised awareness in me and I just wish you all the best,” she said. “I know our paths will cross again someday at some point so I can’t wait to see you again.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With the Chase approaching, the Sprint Cup Series drivers have the weekend off.

They return to action Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, in the Bojangles' Southern 500. It's the second-to-last event before the Chase begins.

You can still get your NASCAR fix this weekend with the XFINITY Series' Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville, held at Road America in Wisconsin. It airs Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern time on NBC Sports Network.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- AMERICAN LEAGUE
L.A. Angels 2, Detroit 0
Texas 4, Toronto 1
Kansas City 5, Baltimore 3
Tampa Bay 5, Minnesota 4
Chicago White Sox 4, Seattle 2


L.A. Dodgers 1, Cincinnati 0
San Francisco 9, Chicago Cubs 1
Washington 4, San Diego 2
Pittsburgh 2, Miami 1
N.Y. Mets 9, Philadelphia 5, 13 Innings
St. Louis 5, Arizona 3

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Bob Levey/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Texans back-up quarterback Ryan Mallett missed practice on Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, the Houston Chronicle reported Mallett had overslept through Thursday's practice, but according to ESPN, later, Texans Coach Bill O'Brien said the absence was because of a "personal issue."

"It's between Ryan and I," O'Brien said. "It's a personal issue."

On Monday, Brian Hoyer was chosen as the Texans starting quarterback after a small competition. He started the preseason opener with Mallett starting the second game of the preseason.

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Don Juan Moore/Getty Images(PITTSBURGH) -- Martavis Bryant is already off to a rough pre-season start.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant is appealing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy by using marijuana, according to ESPN.

ESPN reports Bryant is hoping to hear about his appeal in the next week or more.

Earlier this summer during training camp, Bryant suffered from an elbow infection and missed practice to undergo a minor procedure.

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Manny Carabel/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Legendary basketball player Darryl Dawkins, known as "Chocolate Thunder" for his ferocious slam dunks, died on Thursday at the age of 58.

ESPN reports that a statement from Dawkins' family cited a heart attack as the cause of his death.

Dawkins played 14 years in the National Basketball Association, including seven with the Philadelphia 76ers and five more with the New Jersey Nets. Posting 12 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, Dawkins was a steady player known for being dangerous around the rim. His 57.2-percent field goal percentage is among the 10 best in NBA history.

"The NBA family is heartbroken by the sudden and tragic passing of Darryl Dawkins," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "We will always remember Darryl for his incredible talent, his infectious enthusiasm and his boundless generosity."


NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement regarding the passing of Darryl Dawkins

— NBA (@NBA) August 27, 2015

Dawkins, drafted fifth overall by the 76ers in 1975, was the first player to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft directly out of high school.


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Michael Steele/Getty Images(BEIJING) — Usain Bolt may be the world’s man, but his speed was no match for an out-of-control Segway at the World Athletic Championship in Beijing Thursday.

A cameraman following behind Bolt on the two-wheeled electric vehicle after his 200m victory over American Justin Gatlin collided with the Jamaican sprinter, taking him down as he celebrated.

Bolt did not appear to be hurt in by the incident, telling reporters the Segway “hit me in my calf area,” The Guardian reports. He added, “I am just going to get it massaged, ice it up a bit and I should be fine.”

According to The Guardian, the repeat world champion even had jokes about his run-in with the Segway cameraman for his rival Gatlin.

“The rumor I’m trying to start right now is that Justin Gatlin paid him off,” he said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One group of Little Leaguers -- including a 14-year-old who battled cancer for years -- got to fulfill a cherished dream when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim invited them to play on their field.

It was a day of many firsts for the boys from West Covina, California, whose love for the game and for their teammates extends far beyond baseball.

Jaylon Fong, 14, is a pitcher. He’s also a leukemia survivor, and he credits his baseball buddies with helping him through six years of treatment.

Playing “would make me forget about my treatments that I had at the hospital…it was a way for me to have fun,” Jaylon said.

The league’s coach, Bobby Hansen, said Jaylon would get treatments on Thursday and show up on Saturdays to play.

Hansen recalls their all-star game win with Jaylon on the mound.

“He came in and got the last three outs for us and shut it down,” Hansen said of Jaylon’s performance.

Jaylon finished his treatments two months ago, and the visit to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim field was a back-to-school celebration for him and his teammates, with tips from an Angels coach and some baseball drills.

And then, the high point of their time there: a surprise visit from Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout.

The young players gathered around the player in excitement, and listened as he offered them some advice.

“I was in the same spot you guys are right now....Be a good kid and stay out of trouble and, you know, things will lead you in the right way,” he said.

He also added that they should practice.

Trout had a special greeting for Jaylon, and in turn, the teen handed his idol a “courage” wristband.

“I appreciate it, I’ll wear it right now,” Trout told the teen, adding: “If you watch tonight, I’ll be wearing it at the plate. Hopefully gets us some hits.“

Trout kept his word.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- INTERLEAGUE
Cleveland 6, Milwaukee 2

Houston 6, N.Y. Yankees 2
Seattle 8, Oakland 2
Detroit 5, L.A. Angels 0
Minnesota 5, Tampa Bay 3
Boston 3, Chicago White Sox 0
Toronto 12, Texas 4
Baltimore 8, Kansas City 5

N.Y. Mets 9, Philadelphia 4
San Diego 6, Washington 5
Colorado 6, Atlanta 3
L.A. Dodgers 7, Cincinnati 4
Pittsburgh 7, Miami 2
St. Louis 3, Arizona 1
San Francisco 4, Chicago Cubs 2

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Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Kurt Busch had big news to share on Twitter Wednesday.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver announced to his 200,000-plus followers that he's engaged. The lucky lady is Ashley Van Metre, a polo player.

Busch tweeted a photo of the two of them together, with an engagement ring noticeably on Van Metre's finger. He wrote, "I found the love of my life, and she said yes."

The two reportedly began dating last November.

Busch, 37, is currently eighth in the Sprint Cup Series point standings.

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