13 Year-Old with Cerebral Palsy Wins First Wrestling Match

4 years ago

A mom’s video of a now-famous middle school wrestling match has been lighting up Facebook this week and brought national and local media attention to two Tennessee families.

The attention, the tears and the loving comments made about the exhibition match between a Freedom Middle School wrestler and a Sunset Middle School wrestler who has cerebral palsy have come quickly as the videos have spread.

A crew from Good Morning America interviewed Jared Stevens and his dad, Phil Stevens, at Sunset Middle School for the following segment:

I see a lot of inspiring sports stories but this one really got to me - and apparently I'm not the only one. The Tennessean reports that the story has echoed throughout the local county and around the world.

"At 13, Jared is physically equivalent to a 6-month-old, his dad said. Intellectually, he’s very close to his age level. Socially, he hits it out of the park.

Jared practices with the Sunset wrestling team every day and is often a vocal leader, said wrestling coach Clay Mayes. Jared helps by barking out commands. “‘You gotta cross face!’ he’ll yell,” Mayes said. Then he’ll get on the mat with teammates, who’ve taught him some moves.

After Mayes learned that Jared wanted to have a match, he called his longtime friend and Freedom coach Randy Stevens before the schools faced off in duals last Thursday.

“It wasn’t about weight class,” Mayes said. “I told him to point me toward the kid who has the kindest heart.”

Easy. That’s Freedom seventh-grader Justin Kievit."

Twelve-year-old Justin Kievit did something very few wrestlers would be willing to do: He threw the match. After shaking hands with his opponent, Justin got down on the floor and let himself be "pinned" by helping Jared to wrap his arm around him. 

I dare you to watch the clip and not tear up. Kudos to both kids and their families.

@jschonb
dare to dream
Also online at prettytough.com and womentalksports.com

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