A football coach born without arms or legs gave a rousing speech at the 2019 ESPY Awards
(CNN) — To those whose dreams seem unrealistic, Jimmy V award winner Rob Mendez has one thing to say: Keep dreaming.
Born without limbs but owner of a deep love of football, Mendez decided early on that he wouldn’t let his body limit his goal of coaching.
His ambition led him to ESPN’s 2019 ESPY Awards on Wednesday, when he accepted the award for his perseverance on and off the field.
The award is named for North Carolina State University men’s basketball coach Jim Valvano, who gave what became a legendary speech at the 1993 ESPYs less than two months before his death from cancer.
After 14 years of fighting for a place in the locker room, Mendez was named head coach of the junior varsity football team at Prospect High School in San Jose, California, last summer. His team ended the season with an 8-2 record.
Speaking before a crowd of professional athletes who all rose to their feet when he took the stage, Mendez raised his voice to laud the sport he loves.
“I also want to thank the game of football for all that it’s given me, for allowing me to be part of a team.”
In a video tribute, Mendez said that now he’s got a foot in the door, his dreams have gotten bigger: He wants to coach varsity, college, even NFL teams.
“I’m not done yet,” he told the audience. “I’ve made it this far, and who says I can’t go further? Who says I can’t? Nobody!”
He roared in victory, and his new fans roared back.