My Cerebral Palsy Is Not a Disability It Is a Gift

As I had mentioned in a previous email, I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people in coaching and sports. Sam Becker is one of them.

He has agreed, with his parents permission, to blog with us about his experiences of life as a manager, a sports fan, a young person taking part in the SportsLeader program, what it is like having a coach as a mentor ...
My hope is that his perspective inspires you and your coaching staff, to embrace this mission of transforming lives with greater passion and enthusiasm.


Lou Judd

Hello everyone my name is Sam Becker. I am a 17 year old senior at Archbishop McNicholas high school in Cincinnati, Ohio where I work as the football and basketball manager. My life hasn’t been easy growing up with Cerebral Palsy; through all the trials and tribulations, ups and downs, I have learned two things.

• God has a plan for me 
• My Cerebral Palsy is not a disability it is a gift given to me to accomplish great things.

I was enjoying another day at afternoon practice last Friday when I met Mr. Lou Judd. After talking with him for a few minutes in between my water shifts, Lou asked me to write and try to inspire some of his readers. This was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Before I go any further, I would like to thank Lou for giving me this opportunity and to tell you how much I am honored to have a chance to share my story with you, I am truly bless.

I was born 10 weeks before my due date in Lynbrook, New York, a year and a half later my family was devastated to learn that I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. The doctors seemed to have predicted many things that day. A few them were: I would never be able to walk , if I could walk, I would either need a cane, crutches, or walker, By the time I would be leaving for college I would need a wheel chair or scooter because my body wouldn’t be able to make it across campus.  
You better believe that every time I step on an empty court at 5:30 A.M. to play basketball or walk into the gym to lift these prognosis’ are on my mind. Not a single one of their predictions came true. To most people I look, act, walk, and talk like a normal 17 year old. This is because I am. Throughout 13 years of physical therapy, 100s of doctor appointments, and 2 life changing surgeries, I overcame the impossible odds of some of the more debilitating results of  Cerebral Palsy……

But my life isn’t all sunshine and roses. I think this is because I love sports, they are like my drug. I can’t live without them. I love to compete. Sadly, I will never be the athlete I dreamed of, much less the athletes that are sprinkled throughout my family. As a little kid I looked up to my dad who played college lacrosse at national powerhouses Syracuse University and Cornell University. Along with my father, my uncles, cousins, and even my brother (who is only 13 months older than me) have enjoyed successful college athletic careers. 
A lot to live up to right? As a kid my parents couldn’t tear me away from sports, no matter how much my body took a beating, no matter how much they saw me struggle. I can now admit that I was never the most talented kid by any stretch of the imagination. But the one thing I did accomplish was being the hardest worker on the court or field each game.  

By the time I got to high school the game had changed. Everyone got taller while my growth was stunted. I may have been stronger in the upper body but my lower body was lacking to say the least. I couldn’t keep up, the emotional and physical pain was too much and I knew the fall of my sophomore year that I had to hang up my dreams of playing high school varsity sports. Naturally, it was difficult for me to handle. I worked day in and day out for hours on end to maybe have an opportunity to step on the basketball court or gridiron. I was given the chance to be a team manager for the basketball and football teams. This was far from what I wanted, but like I said, sports is the drug I can’t live without. I hated the fact I couldn’t play, I hated giving water to my friends, and most of all, I hated going to every practice which I would do anything to participate in.  It took me three very emotional seasons of basketball and one season of football to really realize the blessing God and my coaches have given me.

I now go about my job with grace. I try to set an example for my teammates. Although I can’t physically lead them on to the field, emotionally I do my best to inspire them to be great and let nothing hold them back. Being a manager has not affected my work ethic. I work just as hard at serving the team as I would playing with them. I know the true privilege that comes with playing a high school sport. I would do anything to wear a jersey and run out of that tunnel knowing I was getting ready to go to battle with my teammates…who by now have become like brothers to me. Despite all the obstacles, I will never stop encouraging my teammates and I will never let them quit because they can achieve greatness no matter how much it hurts me to stand on the sidelines.  I am blessed to share my last year of high school with them. The obstacles I have over come made my vision  clear…..

My goal going into my senior year and for the rest of my life is to inspire people and help others. I find it extremely important to help all of those kids with CP especially those who face greater challeges than I. I know that although I can’t play high school, college, or pro sports like I dreamed of, I am thankful and grateful. I have out worked my disability and I now feel the need to help others. Not only have I been blessed with great doctors from Dr. Nuzzo in New Jersey, every doctor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and  every physical therapist, trainer, or coach that I have helped me reach my potential, but I have also been blessed with 3 great heroes: Jason McElwain the autistic basketball manger who scored 20 points in three minutes, Anthony Robles the one legged NCAA Wrestling National Champion, and Eric LeGrand the Rutgers football player who was paralyzed in his season opener and now spends everyday trying to walk. These 3 people have inspired me to push myself to the limit to accomplish all my goals in every aspect of my life. 

I want to be that role model, that hero for the hundreds of children  with CP I have shared a waiting room and who may face far greater challenges  than I. For those millions of kids and families who feel hopeless and no one to look up too because of CP, I am now in the process of starting the Sam Becker Foundation For Cerebral Palsy. All the proceeds will go to the Cerebral Palsy unit at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the United Cerebral Palsy (stay tuned and more to come). Knowing that I have been blessed to be in the situation I am, I feel called to help and inspire people throughout the world. I have finally learned that my CP has only enhanced the possibilities I have in front of me, not limited them.
I plan on pursuing a manager position on a Division I college program for either basketball or football. Before I get too far ahead of myself, I am focused on helping the McNicholas  Rockets football team bring back their first State Championship to Cincinnati. We may have our doubters, but the one hope I have been  taught is that not matter how great the odds, nothing is impossible with God, hard work, and heart.
I look forward to writing to all of you regularly throughout this season. If you have any questions/comments about my journey, future plans, or anything else please email me at: [email protected]

God bless,
Sam Becker