Just wanted to share this amazing story with everyone. Here's the press release from the event:
One-Legged Athlete to be Inducted Sunday into Florida High School Hall of Fame
TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida High School Athletic Association will induct one-legged athlete Carl Joseph into the FHSAA Sports Hall of Fame Sunday.
Joseph, now 48 and living in Tallahassee, is among the eight former Florida prep stars chosen for induction. He is believed to be the first disabled athlete to achieve this honor at the state or national level.
Born without a left leg, he transformed himself from the object of pity and ridicule as a child to one of respect and awe at Madison (FL) High School. Winning over dubious coaches along the way, he was a 3-sport standout, earning eight varsity letters and Big Bend Conference awards.
In high school, he was able to hold his own against two-legged athletes, usually getting the better of them despite playing -- or rather hopping -- on one leg. It was when he dropped his crutches (or propped his wooden leg against a tree) and hopped onto the playing field that he became an extraordinary athlete, seemingly defying the laws of physics and reason.
Captain of the varsity football team and starting noseguard, he couldn’t be blocked by only one offensive lineman, so he was double- and triple-teamed. He registered 11 solo tackles in one game. Career highlights include chasing down and sacking a quarterback, blocking a punt, recovering 15 fumbles, batting down numerous passes, and intercepting a pass. He could also punt if needed.
Joseph won three varsity letters in track. He could sail the discus 130 feet and the shotput 40. He excelled in the high jump, winning the district championship at 5 feet 10 inches. In practice, he cleared 6-5.
The pace of basketball limited Carl’s playing time. He was the eighth man on the varsity his senior year, averaging four points and three rebounds a game. A tenacious defender and rebounder, he could dunk and swat shots into the stands.
During the tense early years of forced integration in Madison (Pop. 3,500), Joseph’s inspirational football exploits were credited with uniting the black and white communities. He created immense interest and renewed civic pride in a football team that had been drawing sparse crowds at home. By his senior year, bleachers were overflowing in Madison and on the road.
Former college football coach Jackie Sherrill, a mentor to Joseph, reacted to the announcement by saying, “Congratulations to the selection committee for recognizing a young man who is not in the record books for points, total yardage, sacks or tackles but rather for his ability to inspire the sports world and motivate us to believe we can do anything if we really never, ever give up.”
Frank Yanossy, Joseph’s high school football coach, said, “There is no one individual more worthy of this award.”
Joseph, now a special needs teacher and prep football coach, was elated by his selection. “I feel really blessed that after all these years an honor like this could happen to me,” he said. “When I was a little kid, I used to actually dream about playing varsity sports in high school. But now, to be among these great athletes, that’s something I never could’ve imagined.”
Joseph, who is a bishop in his church and a gospel singer, said his inclusion in the hall of fame gives hope to everyone, especially disabled people, “that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and never quit.”
Officials at the National Federation of State High School Associations in Indianapolis were not aware of any disabled athletes among the 350 inductees in their hall of fame. Personnel at several state high school sports shrines said they had no knowledge of any disabled inductees.