High Schooler With Two Prosthetic Legs Fulfills Football Dream
Sports| | By Brian Delpozo
Doctors suggested amputation immediately after birth, but Hodges’ mother Shelika Walker initially refused. “He needed to know that I did everything that I could do and exhaust all my options before I made that choice,” she said. Those other options ran out as Hodges turned two, and Walker made the choice to have his legs amputated below the knee. The toddler was then fitted with prosthetics, which he took to very quickly according to his mother. She explained, “He took his first steps maybe a couple months after he was fitted with them. He learned to walk with them really quickly.” As Hodges grew older he fell in love with sports and yearned to play football despite his prosthetics, and decided to pursue the sport in high school. Despite eligibility and grade issues, Hodges remained committed to trying to play. “I have always been dedicated to football but wasn’t always allowed to play,” Hodges said. “I love sports, I do.” When the school’s football coach, Chester Allen, learned that Hodges wanted to play he decided not to stand in the teen’s way. “Who am I to tell him he can’t do it?” was the coach’s prevailing attitude. The team went to the Ohio School Athletic Association to find out if there was anything that needed to be done before Hodges could potentially play. After finding out that the team would simply have to pad the teen’s prosthetics, he began working out with the team. Hodges has since been training to become a defensive end. While he’s far behind his teammates as far as football skills go, he’s not giving up. “They told me I was never going to be able to walk when I was first born and now I am playing football. Never ever give up. Always keep your head up,” concluded Hodges.