On February 23, 2009, another superb high school athlete was inducted to the Florida High School Hall of Fame. It wasn’t surprising that the inductee excelled in basketball, football and track. It wasn’t surprising that this 6’1” athlete repeatedly dunked in basketball games. He even documented a record 11 tackle football game and recorded a 5’10” high jump. It wasn’t surprising that he was a dominant defensive force on the basketball court and even blocked shots into the stands. It may not even be that surprising that this inductee was raised in poverty, by a single mom on a tobacco farm. Even being the 4th of 10 children wasn’t all that outlandish. Nothing about this three sport hall of fame athlete seemed particularly different until you saw him.
The man that NFL star Dan Dierdorf called “the most amazing athlete I’ve ever seen”, doesn’t necessarily intrigue until he stands in front of you. What was intriguing? This Hall of Fame inductee accomplished all he did with only one leg. Without the use of any prosthetics, Carl Joseph would hop through the offensive line and tackle running backs. He would hop as high as he could to block his opponent’s shots. His accomplishments would be impressive if he had two legs, but with one leg these accomplishments were absolutely outstanding.
Carl had a simple explanation for his ability to persevere. “My mama never felt sorry for me, and I never felt sorry for myself.” I can’t help but think that Carl was talking directly to us and our daily grind. We tend to think our road is the most difficult road there is. We believe we work too long, too hard and too often. At times we feel sorry for ourselves and wallow in our own self-pity, because we haven’t reached our goals. Just when you begin to feel sorry for yourself, remember what Carl said. “I never felt sorry for myself.” Don’t make excuses or give explanations. Don’t feel sorry for who you are or what you haven’t done. If you can’t run or walk, hop though that offensive line and make that tackle. Never feel sorry for yourself and persevere. If you have maniacal motivation and fanatical focus you can and will succeed!