5 Disabled Athletes Who Excel at Their Sport

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Elite athleticism is, in and of itself, an extraordinary thing to witness. It’s even more impressive though, when someone manages to reach great heights in sports despite having all of the odds stacked against them. Zach Hodskins is one of those people. Born without the lower half of his left arm, the Kentucky native has somehow still managed to become one of the best young basketball prospects in the entire country. In a game that arguably requires more dexterity than any other major sport, a kid with one hand has not only participated, but excelled. Zach is not “good for a disabled player,” he is just plain “good. ”Nasty in fact. So much so, that he just received an offer from basketball powerhouse Florida to join the team as a preferred walk-on.
Zach’s story is unique for sure, but not unheard of. There are others like him.

5 Bethany Hamilton – Surfer

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Bethany Hamilton was born to surf. Growing up in Hawaii, she took to the water and began competing in professional competitions at the age of 8. She was born an able-bodied, natural athlete, but when she was 13 years, old everything changed. Bethany fell victim to a shark attack that saw her escape with her life, but lose her left arm. Less than a month later, she was back on her board. Most people wouldn’t even want to look at the ocean after a shark attack, but Bethany refused to let the incident spoil her career, and is still a fixture on the pro surf circuit.

4 Oscar Pistorius – Sprinter

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Okay, so his name isn’t exactly the shining beacon of inspiration that it was once, but there is no denying that when he was competing, before all the “ugliness,” Oscar Pistorius was a world-class athlete. Having both of his legs amputated below the knee when he was just 11-months old, Pistorius still managed to reach the highest levels of track and field competition. Known as the “Blade-Runner,” Pistorius was the first amputee to win an able-bodied world track medal and the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics.

3 Anthony Robles – Wrestler

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He was born without his left leg, but by no means should you think for a second that Anthony Robles couldn’t kick your ass. Becoming a world-class wrestler in spite of his birth defect, Robles won two state championships in high school over a junior and senior year in which he compiled a record of 96-0. Anthony’s stellar high school career earned him a spot on the Arizona State wrestling team, where he went on to win the 2011 NCAA championship in the 125 lb. weight class.

2 Kyle Maynard – MMA

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Born without the lower portions of his arms and legs, Kyle Maynard saw no reason that being a congenital amputee had to determine what he could and could not do. As a high school wrestler Kyle tallied up an unbelievable record of 50-0 and then moved on to Mixed Martial Arts. He was the subject of the documentary A Fighting Chance, that chronicled his journey into MMA, has won an ESPY Award, and owns his own crossfit gym in Georgia. If all that wasn’t impressive enough, in 2012 Kyle became the first quadruple amputee to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro without assistance. He literally crawled all the way to the top.

1 Jim Abbott – Major League Pitcher

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Jim Abbott was a star at the University of Michigan. Jim Abbott won 87 games in the Majors. Jim Abbott threw a no-hitter as a member of the New York Yankees. Jim Abbott was also born without a right hand. Thanks to his slick method of switching his glove onto his left hand immediately after releasing the ball, Abbott could defend his position in spite of only having one hand, and was able to ride his fire-balling left arm to a successful career in the big leagues. And if you’re still looking for a reason to bow down to him, remember he also guest-starred on that one episode of Boy Meets World.

TK Kelly is a comic and writer who has performed at clubs across the country like the Comedy Store, the Improv, Gotham, and Standup NY. He has also written for Tosh.0, Comedy Central Studios, Funny or Die, Recycled Babies Sketch Comedy, and Second City. His standup comedy has been described as “a thing that happens sometimes,” and according to one of his grandmothers, he is a generally delightful young man. If he were forced at gunpoint to describe himself in one word, that would be a really weird hostage situation.

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