Like a lot of kids, Keith Rutledge grew up dreaming of being a two-sport athlete in high school. With a little practice and hark work, the junior at Mesa Skyline (Arizona) High turned his dream into a reality over the last couple of years, excelling on the football and the baseball diamond for his school.
Playing two sports might not seem like a newsworthy item, but Rutledge's situation is pretty unique. Because unlike every one of his teammates, Rutledge as learned to play both with only one arm -- a truly incredible accomplishment that speaks volumes about his work ethic and positive attitude.
Born without a left arm, Rutledge tried a prosthetic when he was younger but decided against making it a part of everyday life after it bothered him too much. Instead of looking for another option, the high school junior decided to learn how to play sports with only one arm.
"When I first decided that I wanted to play football, my parents did not think I could do it. This motivated me more," Rutledge told the Tempe High School Sports Examiner. "I like to encourage others that when people doubt your ability in trying to accomplish something, don't become angry, utilize your anger as motivation and act upon it. I don't care if you have a mental illness, one leg, or any type of disability, show them that you will fight for what you want."
Rutledge has certainly shown an incredible fight on the field, making some of the most difficult plays look incredible easy this season. Earlier in the year, he made an incredible one-handed catch for 35 yards with defenders in tow.
He's also learned how to catch a baseball in his right hand, get rid of the glove, and then throw the ball in one fluid motion. When he first showed up on the field for tryouts, junior varsity coach Trent Bender took one look at Rutledge and figured there was no way he was making the team.
"I was like, 'You're here for what? Am I missing something?' " Bender told the Arizona Republic. "But he just proved everything you think about somebody from looking at them isn't the way it really is."
Rutledge continues to prove the doubters wrong, and based on the way things are going for him, it appears the sky's the limit for the teen from Mesa, Arizona. After hearing the stories about his determination and drive, hopefully it helps others see that disabilities don't have deter you from doing what you love.
While it may take extra time and effort, Keith Rutledge's story proves that anything is possible in life, so long as you believe.
- Sports & Recreation