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Soccer star doesn't let losing a leg deter her from goal

Nov. 18, 2013 at 9:54 AM ET

Video: Bree McMahon lost a leg after being struck by a car, but was determined not to let that interfere with her college soccer scholarship. TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager reports

When Bree McMahon was a high school senior, her future was set: She had already earned a scholarship to play soccer in college.

But that future changed suddenly one day in 2009, when a close friend accidentally struck McMahon with a car. Doctors could not save her left leg.

Still, McMahon was undeterred. She forgave her friend, and immediately asked her doctor when it might be possible to run again. “I'll admit it, I'm hardheaded,” the 21-year-old told Jenna Bush Hager in a segment that aired on TODAY Monday, a follow-up to a report Hager did four years ago. “I knew what I wanted, and I was gonna chase after it with everything I had.”

And chase McMahon did. She learned how to walk with a prosthetic — and her first steps were taken on a soccer field.

Bree McMahon
TODAY
Bree McMahon was fitted with a prosthetic after being struck by a car and losing her leg.

Brevard College in North Carolina honored McMahon’s scholarship, and she joined the soccer team, eventually playing as goalie with her prosthetic leg.

“She took this adversity and she owned it,” said teammate Lindsay Pritchard. “[Playing again] was her dream from day one. And she never gave up on it.”

Bree McMahon
TODAY
Some thought Bree would never play soccer again. She proved them wrong.

Not everyone believed McMahon would compete again. Kathleen McMahon, Bree’s mother, said that when the family swore she’d return to the field, most people thought they were “delusional.” But Kathleen never doubted Bree. “Seriously, you don’t know our daughter,” she said.

McMahon’s inspirational tale has touched the lives of other amputees.

After the Boston Marathon bombing in April, McMahon spoke to survivors, including Roseann Sdoia, who lost her right leg. That conversation moved Sdoia, who appeared on TODAY and told McMahon, “You're truly an inspiration, and you really helped me see potential that I have in the future.”

Bree McMahon
TODAY
Bree says "you never know how much you truly appreciate something till it's been taken away from you."

McMahon’s experience, her mother said, shows survivors of physical trauma that “recovery is 99 percent choice and 1 percent chance.”

McMahon is grateful for every moment she’s earned on the field.

“You never know how much you truly appreciate something till it's been taken away from you,” she told TODAY. “And so you just try your hardest to get back what you've lost, and that's what I do with soccer.” 

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