Trashaun Willis, a Role Model to Us All

Trashaun Willis is a 6’5” 235 lb. junior at Washington High School in Washington, Iowa. He was the starting middle linebacker in football, recording the most tackles for loss on the team. He was also the backup quarterback, and is expected to be the starter as a senior. On the basketball court, he dunks, hits three pointers, defends and dives for loose balls. Trashaun is good – good enough to be recruited by several universities. “The ultimate goal is to make it to college and then hopefully the next level,” Trashaun says. “Whether it’s football or basketball, it doesn’t matter to me as long as I’m playing. I feel like I can compete with anyone on the court or on the field as long as I continue to push myself hard enough.”

With that type of size, one might expect Trashaun to dominate in athletics. The difference, however in this story, is that Trashaun only has one arm. You see, while in the womb, strands from his mother’s amniotic sack wrapped around his left elbow and stunted further growth. This rare event is called amniotic band syndrome.

So, from day one, Trashaun just found a way. “I refuse to say that I am disabled,” he said. “Because I’m not.” He learned how to tie his shoe and he learned how to shoot a basketball. No big deal. He just had to learn a little differently than most. In the 8th grade, Trashaun gained notoriety on the court when he dunked a basketball during a game. Chris Paul, an NBA superstar, also saw that video and visited him in the corn fields of Iowa. Pretty cool.

 

Joe’s Perspective: I’ve written about Jim Abbott, the one-handed pitcher who pitched a perfect game for the New York Yankees. I’ve written about Shaquem Griffin https://www.characterandleadership.com/shaquem-griffin-stuns/, who currently plays with the Seattle Seahawks. I’ve written about Bethany Hamilton who became a professional surfer, despite the loss of her left arm. Let’s not forget Kyle Maynard, who wrestled in high school, despite not having arms or legs.

Still, the story of Trashaun Willis should not be taken lightly. He found a way when others did not even try. Can you imagine how long it took him to tie his shoes? Can you imagine how long it took him to shoot a quality jump shot? This isn’t a story about his disability or his abilities. This is really a classic example of positive attitude, determination and perseverance. Just like Shaquem Griffin was a role model for Trashaun, Trashaun should be a role model for us. Everyone has challenges. Everyone struggles. Trashaun teaches us that we can never use excuses as reasons for not succeeding. The key in athletics and in life is to never stop trying.

Your Turn: How does the story of Trashaun Willis inspire you to be a better person and role model?

Comments 210

    1. This article allowed me to see that even with a disability you can still dominate. All you need is an amazing work ethic and determination and you can achieve anything you put your mind towards.

  1. It inspires me to keep going even if there is a bump in the road. To have determination, perseverance, and grit.

    1. I agree with that because even tho he has a disability he is doing stuff other people can do without disabilities and shows what you can do even how your body is.

    2. This shows me that no matter how hard something hits you, no matter how sad you get, no matter how negative you feel, you have the choice to fight back. He pushed through a disadvantage and made it great.

  2. It inspires me because it shows that you can do anything you want to. Nothing can really stop you from accomplishing your goals as long as you believe in yourself and work hard to get there. You should always have a positive attitude because then it makes life go much better, even if you are having a bad day having a positive attitude can make it better.

    1. He is really inspiring to people because this shows that you can do anything if you don’t give up and try your best.

  3. How this story inspires me to be a better person is to be stronger and more confident and never let anything get in the way of a dream, and never give up

  4. This inspires me because everyone else has an advantage in being a role model yet Trashaun has one arm and he still is a role model to most

  5. THis story inspires me to be a better person and a role model because it shows me that you can achieve any thing with determination and perseverance.

  6. He inspires me to be a better person because all though you may have differences that may make it harder it is never impossible with enough effort and enough persistence.

  7. It inspires me because if you have a disability you can still accomplish things that other people might think that you can’t do.

  8. It inspires me to be a better person because it shows that people can have it worse and yet pull through and how we should realizes how lucky we are and try to meet their level of amazingness.

  9. Trashaun Willis inspires me to be a better person because his story showed me the power of persistence. His story also showed me that with enough practice and grind, you can achieve anything.

  10. I largely agree with the sentiment proposed. With a positive attitude and simply trying, one can accomplish many a difficult task, and grow as a person.

  11. Trashaun’s story motivates and inspires me to always persevere and to never let anything get in the way of your dreams.

    1. Trashaun Willis inspired me to go hard on what i wanna do he has one hand and still plays basketball and is still going for his goal.

  12. Trashaun Willis’ story inspires me to be a better person, not take things for granted, and to always persevere in the face of struggle.

  13. He inspires me because if your different from others that doesn’t stop him from doing what he wants he wants to. He inspires others to do things they want to.

  14. He inspires me to see that other people have it worse and when you think you’ve done your sport wrong keep trying and have perseverance.

  15. This story is inspiring because it shows that as long as you stay positive, work, and overcome the obstacles that face you, you can accomplish almost anything. Trashaun Willis is a great role model and example of what people should be able to do as long as they work hard.

  16. It inspires me to continue to keep on going even when times are tough. It also is a reminder of how fortunate I am.

  17. Treshaun inspires me to push harder to be a better player, and to have a positive mindset when doing things.

  18. This article inspires me to remember that nothing is an impossible and if we try our best we can achieve anything.

  19. It inspires me because I know that I can be a leader because there are some people out there that aren’t as lucky but are still super happy.

  20. This is a really good story, one that shows how having a positive attitude can help you succeed in life. Trashaun only had one arm, yet he managed to learn to tie his shoes, and live a normal life. All while having a positive attitude. He is a great influence on younger people, as he can show them that a positive attitude is awesome and helpful. This story is really inspiring.

  21. this is good story cause it lets me know that even if you have a disability and you really wanna do it just do it no matter what people say or what you have.

  22. Trashaun Willis inspires me to be a better person by showing me that even when all the odds are against you, anything is possible. It makes me try even harder.

  23. Reading this made me realize how fortunate i am for having both of my arms but even when he only has 1 he found a way to concour through and do what he wants to do.

  24. This really inspires me by showing me that anything is possible even if you have challenges along the way.

  25. He inspired me with how much is stacked against him he still has a positive attitude through any mental or physical disability or even a bad day.

  26. He inspires me because he shows where perseverance and grit can get you no matter what obstacles you run in to.

  27. This inspires me because it shows that really no matter how difficult your situation is if you believe in yourself and try you can accomplish a lot

  28. Think that no matter what happens in you life you can still keep going and dont let anything get in your way of that

  29. he shows where perseverance and grit can get you no matter what obstacles. and this proves people can do anything.

  30. Even if you are going towards hard obstacles, or something seems impossible, because of disability or otherwise, you can still do amazing things.

  31. It helps me become a better role model by letting me know that even though I think that I don’t have great grades, or I say that I’m not a good person, I know that there are people that feel the same as me, and that helps me get through it and help other when help is needed for them.

  32. This showed me that there is no excuse for being lazy, and it doesn’t matter what your situation is, you can always succeed if you try hard enough.

  33. Even if you are going towards hard obstacles, or something seems impossible, because of disability or otherwise, you can still do amazing things….

  34. This inspires me because it shows everyone not to give up and even though it might be hard it makes you work harder.

  35. I think this inspires other kids and people that only have one arm , and lets them know just because they only haven only one arm they can still participate in activities.

  36. He is a good role model, because even though he has obstacles, he powers through them and is an even greater player than people who may not have such large obstacles.

  37. it inspires me to try harder because of him being really good with one arm which pushes me to do better because anything is possible

  38. it inspires me to try harder because of him being really good with one arm which pushes me to do better because anything is possible.

  39. He is definitely a role model because he overcomes obstacles that he faces. He shows that just because he has a ‘disability’ doesn’t mean he can’t excel.

  40. It made me realize that we can do things that seem impossible by practising, it also made me be grateful for what i have. 🙂 :v

  41. His story inspires me to be grateful and also not think differently of a person if they are different than me in life in general or in sports

  42. What inspired me about his story is that even though he has one arm he still tried to play sports and didn’t give up

  43. Stories such as this one are very inspiring because it reminds us that there are no excuses. We have it much easier than others but we tend to forget this and give up due to our difficult circumstances. But this reminds us that anyone can make it with hard work.

  44. Shows that anything is achievable if you believe in yourself. Using passion in your actions can help motivate you to the next level

  45. This story shows how no matter what the circumstances are you can do anything you set your mind to. If you are determined enough you can achieve your personal goal in life.

  46. This shows me that I never should complain about what I don’t or do have, just take what I have and give all I have with my given ability. I also should never take advantage of the things that are given to me, and be the best person I can be everyday.

  47. This article is a good example of how it’s possible to accomplish the same goals as other even when you don’t have the same circumstances.

  48. This is inspiring. We tend to take for granted the things that we have. Sometimes we even feel sorry for ourselves. Trashaun’s story is a good reminder to make the best of the situation that has been handed to us.

  49. This inspires me because it makes me realize that I may have it tough at sometimes but for some others they have it way harder than I’ll always have it so this makes me wanna try and be a role model for others that may have a more difficult time at doing some things.

  50. Trashaun’s story inspires me to stop making excuses and not take my life for granted. Trashaun inspires me to push my limits and out work most.

  51. He is an inspiration to all, and has high potential. Shaquiem Griffin must be a huge inspiration to him due to his loss of a hand.

  52. It is inspiring that even if you have a disability, you can still reach your goals. He never gave up and now he is very successful in his life.

  53. Willis has been through a lot with his arm being gone. For him to strive and keep playing sports and continue his dream says a lot about his character. He shows leadership because he didn’t give up and is a great role model to many kids.

  54. Even if you have disabilities anything is still possible. Even though he has one arm he still excels in the sports and activities he does.

  55. This video made me realize that even if you have a disability you can do anything you just have to try and work hard .

  56. this helps me feel that I can do anything because if trashaun Willis can be so good at sports and he’s disabled that means that I can good at sports

  57. I feel like it doesn’t matter what disability you have, you can accomplish your goals , and no one should be able to tell you, you can’t

  58. this story inspires me by teaching me that we are the ones limiting our success by putting excuses instead of trying hard

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