Rob Mendez, a high school football coach who was born without arms or legs, delivered a speech that will inspire everyone who hears it when he received the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at Wednesday night’s ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.
“If there’s any message I want to give you guys tonight, it’s to look at me and see how much passion I put into coaching and how far it’s gotten me,” Mendez, 31, said while accepting the award, named in honor of late North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano, who died from cancer in 1993.
Mendez, who was born with tetra-amelia syndrome, is the junior varsity football coach at Prospect High School in Saratoga, California, just outside of San Jose.
“When you dedicate yourself to something and open your mind to different possibilities and focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do, you really can go places in this world,” he said.
Mendez learned how to create football game plans by playing the “Madden” video game and rose through the coaching ranks over the years. He started as a team manager in high school before taking assistant coaching jobs at various high schools, Sports Illustrated reported.
Before the 2018 season, Mendez, who was also the subject of a profile on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” earlier this year, was named junior varsity coach of the Prospect High School Panthers. The team finished the season 8-2.
“Realizing I couldn’t play football, but I could coach football, that was the way for me to never give up, from the words of Jimmy V,” he told the audience. “That was my way of focusing on what I can do.”
He then urged everyone to be persistent in chasing their own dreams.
“Let me tell you, the best part of coaching for me is seeing someone’s potential and making them realize what’s possible,” he said. “So, for anyone out there not sure if they can do something, it can be in sports, it can be in your job, it can be in your life, whatever it is, I’m here to tell you that you can do it.”