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It may sound trite, or like a passage from Captain Obvious, but when talking about her older son, Becky Celli says, “His story is his story.”

Clay Celli isn’t your everyday kid.

While millions of teenagers are glued to iPads, social media and YouTube, the 17-year-old Byrd senior feeds an infatuation with history through his unusual hobby of “reading encyclopedias.”

Apparently, encyclopedias still exist.

Celli’s interest may have been sparked by his background. He was born in Saratov, a major port city (population of more than 800,000) on the banks of the Volga River in Russia, adopted by a Shreveport family before he was 6 months old and remains one of the youngest Russian children adopted internationally.

Friday, the bite-sized athlete and reigning city champion, will enter the LHSAA state wrestling tournament as the No. 3 seed at 106 pounds. This despite the fact he was born with Syndactyly, a condition rare in humans where two or more digits are fused together.

The condition affected one foot and both hands and required multiples surgeries as a toddler.

Celli lettered in the 106-pound division as a 94-pound freshman and still doesn’t have to cut weight to compete. The former martial-arts practitioner (including Kung fu and Taekwondo) loves the individual aspect of wrestling.

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