We then did our own thing again and made our way to Utah to play an exhibition-like game against some other amputees. It was only four-on-four, but we did receive some media attention. We also set up a speaking gig at a local elementary school. It was a huge hit and the kids loved us.
It was at that school event that we knew we had something special. We continued to do events on our own…from Dallas to New York. It was our trip to New York where we finally got the opportunity to express our goals and dreams with a potential sponsor—Freedom Innovations, a prosthetics manufacturer. They took a shot on us with the New York Event we set up, following us to the school speaking gigs and the charity game we set up playing against high school seniors and coaches. We won the game in front of Freedom, which highly impressed them.
Amputees beating able-bodied athletes. Really?!
They soon became our first sponsor, helping us with flights and hotels—expenses we were initially sacrificing. Since then we have played in cities across the country. Dallas, New York, Las Vegas, Utah, L.A., Kansas City, Walter Reed in Washington, Detroit and Oklahoma. We have played at legendary Rucker Park, played at halftime at a Dallas Mavericks game, and played and placed third at the Nike 3-on-3 tournament in L.A. this past year.
I was asked personally by Donnie Nelson, GM of the Dallas Mavericks and owner of the Texas Legends to tryout for the D-League team Texas Legends, which was a huge honor with everything I have been through.
I got to run the Olympic torch in 2002 and handed it off to Lance Armstrong—another cancer survivor.
I have been honored by being awarded with the Community Hero, Hometown Hero, Texan with Character, and camp counselor of the year awards at different points in my life.
I have spoken to thousands of people all across the country—schools, churches, prisons, organizations, kids programs, camps, and guest speaking at special events.
I have written and published my own book Stand Up: I Lost My Leg To Cancer Not My Dream.
It is more than basketball; I am spreading the message of never giving up.
Never give up on your dreams and don’t let anyone stop you from reaching them. Our motto is “Stand up.” Yes we play stand up to basketball… but we are standing up for what we believe in, what we know we can do, and standing up for ourselves.
I haven’t been dealt the best hand in life and I could have accepted playing basketball in a wheelchair and that would have been accepted—and probably praised—by many people. That would have been the easy way out.
Instead, I chose to keep my dream alive by staying committing to it and going through the hardships and sacrifices to one day live out my dream to the fullest. I have four tattoos, all of which have meaning. A cross on my right arm for my faith—I know that everything happens for a reason, that this is all God’s work. Then there’s a cancer survivor tattoo on my left arm and the phrase, “Never Give Up” across my back. Lastly, I have a serenity prayer on my right chest.
My life is committed to my dream. My voicemail states that I am either working or playing ball. It’s in my blood and it is my passion. I hope that this story touches everyone; that it helps them to see someone who has overcome adversity and hardships and did not give up in life. I want to inspire people, fill them with hope.
Just because I lost my leg doesn’t mean I lost my dream.