— Author unknown
Carl Joseph was born without a left leg. Raised in poverty in a single mom household, he grew up in north Flordia on a tobacco farm, the fourth of 10 children. Faced with obstacles most of us can only imagine, Carl didn’t let himself be discouraged. Sports provided a platform for him to excel.
In high school, Carl played basketball, football and track — all done without the aid of his prosthesis. In basketball, he swatted opponents’ shots into the stands and could dunk at just 6′1″ tall. In football, as a captain and starter, he played nose tackle on defense and hopped to make tackles. In one game, he had 11 tackles. He even played college football at Bethune Cookman College. In track, he once high jumped 5′10″ high. Nicknamed “Sugarfoot,” Carl was also an honors student.
Carl traces his inspirational sports story roots back to his mother. He said, “My mama never felt sorry for me, and I never felt sorry for myself. Believe you can do it and Christ does the rest.” Recently, the Florida High School Athletic Association inducted Carl into the Hall of Fame. Carl’s statement included this line, “A one-legged athlete in the Hall of Fame gives hope to disabled people that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and never quit.”
Perhaps former NFL star Dan Dierdorf summarized Carl’s abilities the best when he called him, “the most amazing athlete I’ve ever seen.”
Carl Joseph was elected to the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Feb. 23, 2009. Carl’s unprecedented exploits have been memorialized in this video, using old game footage that had been lost to Carl for the last 29 years. The video shows why he was a legend in his own time. From sacking quarterbacks to dunking basketballs, he didn’t let the mere absence of a leg stop him from competing as an equal and even excelling in high school sports. His story of faith, courage and heart inspired millions on TV in the early 1980s.