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Rob Mendez    

High School Football Coach Without Limbs; Jimmy V Award for Perseverance ESPY 2019 Honoree

Rob Mendez was born without arms or legs due to tetra-amelia syndrome. Tetra-amelia is a rare disorder whose primary characteristic is preventing embryos from developing limbs. Many who are born with this condition have so many congenital issues that they are stillborn or die shortly after they’re born. Mendez has defied many odds. He’s in his 30's with an active, successful career.

Unable to play football, Mendez learned the fundamentals of the sport by playing Madden. He became a manager for his high school football team as a freshman and served as the team's quarterbacks coach his senior year. After spending 12 years serving as an assistant coach at various local high school programs, Mendez was named junior varsity head coach at Prospect–a Bay Area high school in Saratoga, Calif.–ahead of the 2018 season. The team went 8–2 in his first year at the helm.

After his successful first season, Mendez was highlighted by ESPN in early 2019. His inspirational story went viral. A few months later, he was notified that he'd be receiving the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2019 ESPYS. The award is named after the late North Carolina State men’s basketball coach and broadcaster Jimmy Valvano and is awarded annually to “a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination.”

Mendez is continuing to empower others, coach football, and use his hashtag #WhoSaysICant on twitter.

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