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On July 25, 2012, most Americans were enjoying the final few weeks of summer. The Carolina Panthers were two days away from the start of training camp. In Kandahar, Afghanistan, 1st Sgt. Cedric King of the 82nd Airborne was walking a patrol that would alter the trajectory of his life.
In the course of his patrol, Sgt. King stepped on an an improvised explosive device (IED) that detonated beneath his feet. He spent eight days in a coma, awakening to find he’d lost both legs in the explosion. Broken in mind and body, he connected with the Panthers and head coach Ron Rivera — and found new purpose and new meaning to his life.
He fired up the Panthers and ran the Boston Marathon, and now, King’s powerful story is the focus of an inspirational new Yahoo Sports video feature (above).
Rivera learned of King’s story through family, military and coaching connections. When the Panthers traveled to Washington to play the Redskins, Rivera invited King — a longtime Panthers fan — over from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. King spoke to the team, and from his wheelchair delivered a simple message:
“I know something good is going to happen to me every single day.”
“It was amazing just listening to him talk,” Rivera said. “He is one of the most inspirational men I’ve ever talked with.”
King, in turn, drew inspiration from the Panthers. He’s become a fixture at their games, banging the Keep Pounding drum and spending time pregame with Cam Newton and other Carolina stars. He used their strength as momentum and motivation for a bold, audacious goal of his own: running the Boston Marathon just 21 months after losing both of his legs. He’s now run nine marathons on prosthetic legs, a testament to willpower and hard work.
“When you see a guy that willingly committed and sacrificed so much … it puts everything in perspective,” Rivera said. “At the end of the day I want to win and I want to win football games. But also at the end of the day, I want to understand what life is really about.”
“Yeah, I had to lose two legs to be someone else’s gift,” King says, “but at least [the attack] has meaning now. This isn’t some senseless tragedy. This isn’t some bad coincidence. This actually has purpose and meaning … If somebody’s getting good out of this, win, man. We win.”
Watch the full video above to learn all about 1st Sgt. King’s inspirational story.
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