BEAUREGARD PARISH, LA (KPLC) - A one-in-a-million birth defect caused David Vince, of Ragley, to be born with deformed legs. By age two, he was a double amputee.
David did not let his defect become a disability, making a lifelong dream come true against all odds.
The mobility that most children develop in their early years did not come easily for David. Crawling, scooting and walking on crutches was the norm for the first eight years of his life, the result of tibial hemimelia. Simply put, it is a birth defect causing a lack of leg bones. "At that time they felt like it wasn't correctable and so they amputated both legs above the knee," said David.
David went through intense physical therapy, learning to walk on prosthetic legs and stunning doctors with his drive for independence. "Doctors told me I would never walk without crutches. I put the crutches down when I was eight years old and I've been going without them ever since," he said.
That inner strength carried David through tough years in school, where he was the target of relentless bullying. "The game was how many times can we shove David down in a 20 minute recess period without the teacher looking. Most days it was four or five times."
But even through the pain and humiliation, David kept getting back up. As the years passed, he found his place in athletics. "I ended up being the student manager as I got older and into high school," said David, "also into McNeese where I was equipment guy, stat guy, glorified bat boy."
David had never played baseball before, but his dream was to coach the sport. Some schools would not even consider this double amputee without playing experience, but David said he had something else. "Players would look at me and say 'how are you gonna teach me to play baseball? You never played baseball in your life. You don't have any legs, so how are you gonna teach me to play baseball?' which is true," he said. "I worked very hard at being very knowledgeable, very structured and disciplined."
Those baseball smarts paid off for David who was making a name for himself in state championship games and as "Coach of the Year" in Florida.
But at home, David faced another obstacle when his second child was born with the birth defect he carried. "I was told I carried a defective gene, so you feel like it's your fault she was born that way."
Sierra had to undergo amputations, but her legs were saved above the ankles. On the basketball court and in the swimming pool, she has proven herself wrong about how much she can accomplish. "I thought I wouldn't be able to do that since I don't have real legs," said the 13-year-old girl.
But Sierra has the medals to prove her abilities.
As for Coach David Vince, he has 29 years of coaching experience at both high school and collegiate levels, nearly 500 wins and 10 Coach of the Year honors.
This is David's advice to players and anyone pursuing a dream: "You don't listen to nay sayers, you never give up, never, never, never give up," he said, "just don't quit."
David is now retired and spends his time as a motivational speaker. He recently wrote a book called "When Life Throws You Curves, Keep Swinging." Click here to learn more about David and his book.