By Carter Higgins, blackdoctor.org
Wrestling is one of those sports that really takes a lot of strength, balance and strategy. And Hasaan Hawthorne has proved that he has all of those after winning a state wrestling title, a perfect 37-0 season record. But he did it all with no lower legs.
The Huntsville, Alabama 18-year-old was born without shins because of a rare condition called tibial hememelia.
Tibial hemimelia (TH) manifests as a shortened leg with knee and ankle deformities. Most often those deformities are varus in the ankle and a knee flexion contracture in the knee. There is also typically instability of these joints due to a lack of collateral ligaments. The patella and quadriceps muscles may be present or absent, but will have limited function if present. The tibia may be shortened, dysplastic, or absent.
When he was just two days old, a doctor told his parents they had a decision to make: to let their son’s legs and feet grow, leaving him wheelchair-bound for life or to amputate his feet and legs at the knees, AL.com reports. Amputation would give Hasaan the chance to walk on his own with the use of prosthetics.
At four months old, Hasaan had both legs amputated at the knees. He was given his first prosthetic legs at 14 months and soon discovered a love of sports–something that his parents had no idea he was interested in.
“I didn’t even think about sports,” Hasaan’s dad, Demond Hawthorne, told AL.com. “He had a pair of walking legs, strictly for walking. Just walking in them is supposed to use the same energy we use to run.”
By age four, Hasaan was running; at age five, he started playing youth baseball. But his love of sports proved to have a unique problem: he was too active for his walking legs, which broke often, requiring repairs that took weeks. Then, in 2007, he received a grant for curved running legs that normally cost tens of thousands of dollars.
After that, is when his love for wrestling came into play.
Hasaan said he was inspired to try out for his school’s wrestling team after seeing one-legged wrestler Anthony Robles win a NCAA National championship in 2011.
“I said, ‘Why can’t I do it?’” Hasaan said.
He wrestled in more than 70 matches as a sophomore and ended his junior season third in the state for his weight class.
But that wasn’t enough.
During his final year of high school competition, he set his sights on being the best.
“I’ve got to win, got to,” he told AL.com before state championships. “I don’t think I’ve made a name for myself on the national level yet… I still feel like I have unfinished business to do.”
And recently, Hasaan finished that business by winning first place and being named most valuable wrestler in his weight class at the Alabama state wrestling championship.
“I don’t like to see people sad,” explained Hasaan. “I like to cheer people up. I’m just like other people, just with different legs.”