Junior was born with "water on the brain," also called hydrocephaly. This is a condition where fluid builds up in the cranium and can cause brain damage or swelling of the skull. Junior attributes his large skull to having been born with hydrocephaly, and believes it is also the cause of his abnormal number of teeth- forty-two in all. He also suffers seizures and has poor eyesight, which may be the result of some brain damage from the swelling in his cranium. When Junior was an infant, he had surgery to correct the hydrocephaly, but he is still physically atypical today. He also describes himself as being very thin, with big hands and feet.
Junior has been the subject of much discrimination and teasing during his life. Though he has built up a thick skin to such treatment, it still makes him angry inside when people attack his lisp or appearance. He spends a lot of time by himself, reading and drawing, to avoid being picked on. Despite being physically atypical and the fact that his family is impoverished, Junior has an unshakable thirst for opportunity. He hopes that his drawings might make him rich and famous one day and take him away from the troubles of the Reservation. When Junior becomes one of the best players on his basketball team, he finds that people are willing to overlook the ways in which he might be strange because he is good at something.