Don't go complaining to Citrus Hill (Perris, Calif.) High basketball standout Joe Richard about your next knee injury. He doesn't have an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee -- or anything below that knee, for that matter -- and he's doing just fine.
Playing on a prosthesis, the 6-foot-4, 170-pound senior forward averaged 5.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks through eight games for the Hawks this season, including a double-double against Redlands (Calif.) Citrus Valley earlier this month.
“It doesn’t stop me,” he told the Riverside Press Enterprise. “I love basketball with all my heart. I’ve always grown with it and around it. Basketball is the greatest thing I’ve done.”
And it may lead to even greater things. Richard, who reportedly carries a 3.5 GPA, hopes to land a basketball scholarship and inspire amputee athletes, just like one-armed University of Florida-bound basketball recruit Zach Hoskins, who recently made headlines again with this dramatic shot.) And Richard knows it isn't all about basketball, as he aims to inspire Haitian children who lost limbs in the earthquake.
Most recently, Richard played in the MaxPreps Holiday Classic, where Mitch Stephens caught up with him for a feature on the inspirational amputee, detailing the Citrus Hill standout's harrowing battle with tibial agenisis, a congenital condition that cost him the lower part of his leg at 15 months old, and his triumph through basketball.
“I never gave any thought to quitting,” Richard added. “I’ve always had that drive to finish whatever I started. I’m not a quitter. I don’t give up just because I have a little bit of a disadvantage. I can still play with people who have both legs. That’s my drive."
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