Meet The Football Coach Born Without Limbs Whose ESPY Acceptance Speech Went Viral

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Playing Emotional Surprise For ESPY Award-Winning Football Coach Born Without Limbs
Emotional Surprise For ESPY Award-Winning Football Coach Born Without Limbs Aired September 24, 2019

If you're looking for living proof that if you work hard enough, anything is possible, we've found it. 

Coach Rob Mendez, who was born with tetra-amelia, worked 12 years towards becoming the head coach of the JV Football team at Prospect High School in California.

"It's just a rare disease that people are born with all four missing limbs," Coach Rob explains. "There would be days where it just sucked not being able to play [sports]."

When Rob was asked to be a team manager as a freshman in high school, he was excited, but he knew he wanted to do more. "That was such an uplifting feeling," he tells us, "but I just knew I wanted to coach."

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By the time he was a junior, he was allowed to wear headsets during games. "I was able to hear a lot of the play calling and just kind of be like a sponge and just take it all in."

He later applied to multiple schools for head coaching jobs and was turned down. After 12 years of assisting different high schools, though, Prospect High School gave him his first head coaching job. 

And today, he's going on his second year as head coach of the JV football team, which has grown from 25 players to 60 under his leadership. (Wow!) In fact, the team is so large that Coach Rob finds it difficult to keep up with the equipment demand (but more on that later … ).

"Coaching football gives me the feeling of helping people, helping others," Coach Rob says. "I really enjoy working with the kids. It gives me a sense of importance." 

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Now, we're not the only people inspired by Coach Rob. He was given the Jimmy V Award at the 2019 ESPY Awards — and his acceptance speech went viral.

"When you dedicate yourself to something, open your mind to different possibilities and focus on what you can do instead of what you can't do" Coach Rob said during his speech, "you really can go places in this world."

"It was kind of unreal. I just took the moment in," he says about the experience. "I couldn't believe I was there." 

Perhaps one of the most inspiring moments of his speech was when he shouted, "Who says I can't? Nobody." It was so motivational, in fact, that the hashtag #whosaysIcant was born. 

Needless to say, when Coach Rob visited our show, he received a standing ovation from our in-studio audience — and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. 

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And, of course, there was no way we were missing an opportunity to reward the coach for his inspiring determination and perseverance. 

Because Coach Rob is such an amazing motivational speaker, he is now getting invited to speak all over the country. He even started a GoFundMe page to raise money to cover the cost of the travel. So when Radisson Rewards, the loyalty program for Radisson Hotel Group, heard that, they wanted to help. They're covering Coach Rob's lodging for an entire year! They're hooking him up with 4 million rewards points that he can use at any of their 1,100 hotels around the world. 

But that's not all. 

Together, Riddell — which is all about improving the game through better equipment and innovative coaching — and USA Football, which is dedicated to educational and developmental programs, are giving Rob's program at Prospect High School an equipment Grant for $10,000. 

That's still not all.

Coach Rob has used the same wheelchair for 15 years, so The NFL Foundation is giving him a $10,000 grant towards a new wheelchair.

Coach, you deserve all of this and more. ❤️

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