Seeing the recent movie Soul Surfer started me to conduct research to see if there are any other so-called handicapped people that accomplished remarkable feats. Heres what I found.
Erik Weihenmayer was born on born September 23, 1968 and lost his vision capabilities when he was thirteen-years-old. A former middle-school teacher and wrestling coach, he became the first blind person to climb all of the Seven Summits, the highest peaks on each of the seven continents: North America's Mt. McKinley (1995), Africa's Kilimanjaro (1997), South America's Aconcagua (1999), Antarctica's Mt. Vinson (2000), Asia's Mt. Everest (2001), Europe's Mt. Elbrus (2002), and Australia's Kosciusko (2002). He has also scaled the 3000 foot vertical rock face of El Capitan and the 3000 foot ice face of Polar Circus in the Canadian Rockies. In 2005, he was also the first disabled athlete to participate in the 1,161-mile Iditarod Trail Sled in Alaska.
Usually, most professional basketball players are tall - at least 6 foot, but likely much taller. The odds of high school and college basketball players making it into the National Basketball Association (NBA) are estimated being 40 to ten million against it - and thats for players over six-foot in height. Despite the odds, three players well under six-foot made it into the NBA.
The first was Anthony "Spud" Webb. He was five-foot seven. He played in the NBA for twelve seasons. He had an amazing forty-two inch vertical jump and won victory at the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Championship where he defeated many high-flying artists that were more than a foot taller than him, including Atlanta Hawks teammate Dominique Wilkins.
Earl Boykins, only 5 feet, 5 inches, is now in his eighth season playing in the NBA. He is a point guard for the Denver Nuggets, and is the NBA leading scorer off the bench.
The very shortest to play in the NBA is Tyrone "Mugsy" Bogues. He is only five-foot, three inches. Aside from being the all-time shortest NBA player, Bogues was also the shortest to be able to DUNK the ball.
The odds of high school or collage baseball players making it into the playing professional baseball are quite huge. It is hard enough to make it into the MLB with both arms, but a few players with only one arm made it into the major leagues and that was before they could order custom baseball gloves from HomerunMonkey.com to help them play with their disability.
One was Peter Gray, although he was born with two arms, in a farming accident when he was six-years-old, he had to have his right arm amputated - and he was right-handed. Gray's enthusiasm for baseball led him to learn to bat and field one-handed, catching the ball in his glove and then quickly removing his glove and transferring the ball to his hand in one motion. He played in the outfield. His primary professional career was during World War II.
Jim Abbott was born in 1967 with no right arm. Despite this, he was a pitcher in the major leagues. Jim played for ten seasons on four different teams and ended his big league playing career in 1999. In his first season as a professional he won more games as a rookie than any other previous player without Major League experience.