VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY)- Ten year old Adonis Lattimore is like most kids his age. He loves sports, especially wrestling.
But Adonis was born without legs. “He has a good spirit, but he struggles with self-confidence a little bit because of his condition,” says his father Jerrold.
It’s a condition that is very rare and role models are even more rare. But Adonis has somebody he can really look up too. Anthony Robles was also born without one leg. “You can imagine as a kid, I struggled with that. I didn’t understand why I was different. I was missing my leg. I didn’t know what to do. My mom told me, god made you that way, there is a plan, just wait and see what it is,” said Robles.
That plan was wrestling.
At 14 years old, Robles first hit the mat and was hooked. “I came home that day after wrestling practice and my face was all bloody and I walked through the door with a big smile on my face, and my mom thinks I got jumped at school. I say to mom, I went to wrestling practice and this is the funnest thing I have ever done.” said Robles.
With only one leg, Robles battled long odds each time he took to the mat against two-legged opponents. Never once did he use his condition as anything but motivation to excel in fact as a freshman he finished last in the city and then found motivation by writing out his goal on a sticky note that he still carries to this day. “That night I wrote down my first goal, State champ, you can do it on this little sticky note,” said Robles.
He became a two time high school state champion, but no college offered him a scholarship. So Robles walked on at Arizona State University and in 2011 he shocked the wrestling world when he won the NCAA National Championship. “I’m sitting there, 20 thousand people watching and I have to wrestle the returning champ. I was scared out of my mind. I remember running out of the tunnel, stepping on the mat telling myself, there is no way this guy worked harder than me,” said Robles.
Robles is the walking definition of perseverance. He now shares that message to all athletes including those at a recent wrestling camp at Kellam High School. ‘You’re always going to have a challenge whether it’s in sports or life. You’re always going to have something that’s going to knock you down. The question is, are you going to get back up,” added Robles.
There is a special bond between Robles and Adonis. One that they both know…and one that young Adonis has yet to understand. “I had no idea that by just doing simple things I was inspiring others. Adonis inspires me and I can see it in his eye, he has that positive light there, he has that power to change people,” said Robles.