This story will inspire you… to realize how anyone can overcome adversity!
Lee Hee-ah was born with severe physical deformities. She only had two fingers on each hand. And her legs ended at her knees. Her doctors didn’t expect her to live.
But she did live. At the age of six she started to play piano. At the time, her four fingers were very weak. She couldn’t even hold a pencil. Her mother hoped playing piano would strengthen her grip.
It worked. But more than that, she found a calling. She now tours the world, playing for stunned audiences. She plays pieces that would be difficult for able-bodied pianists.
The videos are real and Lee Hee-ah is authentic. It is the story of a mother and a daughter who have overcome odds from the very beginning.
Lee Hee-ah’s mother became unexpectedly pregnant while married to a disabled man. Doctors told her that because of a medication she had been taking her child would not be normal. She elected to continue with the pregnancy and in 1985 in Seoul, South Korea, little Lee Hee-ah was born with only two fingers on each hand, disfigurement of her legs, and slight brain injury. The hospital told Sun that she could not care for the child at home and relatives wanted her to place the child for adoption in a foreign country. Sun thought her baby was beautiful, however, and was determined that she would live a successful life.
When she was a pre-schooler her mother decided that she wanted her daughter to take piano lessons and for two reasons. One was that she felt it would help her strengthen her hands so she could hold a pencil. The other was that she felt that if she could master the piano, she could master anything. For six months piano schools turned them down then the one teacher who did accept the task got discouraged and wanted to quit. It became a three-month contest of wills between mother and daughter that led to a confrontation in which Sun actually threw her daughter on the floor in frustration. She said Lee Hee-ah got back up on the piano bench and for the first time played the children’s song she had been trying to learn. That was the turning point and one year later Lee won the grand prize in a piano concert for kindergartners. It was at age 7 that Lee won Korea’s 19th National Handicap Conquest Contest and was presented with her award by the President of Korea.
Today Lee is 34, has won numerous awards, and is a widely traveled concert pianist with more than 200 appearances. Her first album titled “Hee-ah, a Pianist with Four Fingers” was released in June 2008.
Lee gives tribute to her mother for challenging her to master the piano and said that although her training was difficult, “as time went by, the piano became my source of inspiration and my best friend.”