Blake Leeper is not your average NBA All-Star player. He may dribble and shoot just like Kevin Hart and Nick Cannon, but he was the only disabled player on the court at the 2015 NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, and is now the first Paralympic athlete to ever participate.
The 25-year-old was born without either of his legs and was told he would never walk. Now, after winning two medals in the 2012 Paralympic Games in track and field, he made it to Madison Square Garden as the first disabled and double-amputee to play on an NBA court.
"I'm glad I'm able to carry that torch, to show the world what we can do," Leeper said. "A lot of people see me, they see my disability and they are impressed by me just walking. I can show the world something they have never seen before, a guy with no legs playing standup basketball."
The Paralympian said he owes his fiery ambition to his parents, who told him at a young age his disability did not define him.
Leeper started using prosthetic legs when he was less than a year old and dabbled in baseball and basketball throughout his childhood. But, it wasn't until he was at the University of Tennessee and he saw his first Paralympic race that he discovered his biggest aspiration.
"Right then and there, I decided that's what I wanted to do," he said. "I had never run a day in my life, I didn't know how I was going to do it, but in my heart I truly believed that I could."
After two years of failed efforts, Leeper was finally contacted by the Challenged Athletes Foundation and given the legs he needed to run the race. Soon, he would win his first medal in London as a Paralympic athlete.
Now, he is brushing elbows with professional athletes and celebrities, being interviewed by the media, and living out his dreams despite all obstacles.
For those experiencing similar challenges, Leeper has some advice: "The only true disability in life is a bad attitude."