Max Lamm is in many ways your typical 13-year-old boy, enjoying his drum set, texting, and of course, wrestling.
"I consider myself extremely lucky," Max told NBC's Craig Melvin on TODAY. "I've got a nice family, a lot of good friends, good teachers, good school."
But the middle-school student from suburban Mars, Pennsylvania, is more than just lucky. He's a living miracle. When Max was only 10 months old, he was diagnosed with stage 5 brain cancer. It was a rare form of cancer called retinoblastoma, which when left unchecked, is almost always fatal.
"The doctor turned to us and said, 'you have an extremely sick baby,'" Max's father, Eric, said. Doctors did the best they could to save Max's sight in spite of the aggressive treatment, but his vision slowly deteriorated. At 11, Max was completely blind, which made his passion for sports borderline impossible.
"He took the news with such poise, such grace," Eric said.
But despite going completely blind, it turns out there was one sport that Max could continue competing in, and excelling at — wrestling.
As first reported by Bleacher Report, Max is not just a full-time member of his local wrestling team, One More Period Wrestling, but he's an outstanding talent. He finished last season with an impressive and inspiring record: 10 wins and 1 loss.
Coach Joe Fink said that wrestling is the perfect sport for Max because it requires a heavy reliance on instinct and feel.
"He is an exceptional wrestler," Fink said. "Extremely committed. He comes here and I know that he wants to wrestle in college, and we are going to help him get there."
More than just excelling on a personal level, Fink says that Max inspires the entire team. "He really does uplift the whole room with the type of effort he puts in and the way he handles himself," the coach said.
As for Max's safety on the mat without eyesight, mom Lisa said of course she is worried, and scared at times, "But I am also just very proud of him," she said. "It takes a lot of strength, inside and out."
Max says he's just happy to practice and compete, to be a member of the team. It's a feeling backed up by Max's best friend and teammate Mitchell. "I learned that Max does not like special attention," Mitchell said. "He just wants to be treated as a normal kid."
"I don't consider it a disability," Max says. "I just consider it another challenge to get through."