The media is quick to publish stories about athletes who are arrested or fail in life. But there are many more athletes that are using their position as role models to do good and to make a difference in people’s lives. This is a heartwarming story about the power of sports and friendship.
Meet AJ Starr. AJ is the equipment manager for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team and he has Cerebral Palsy. When he was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, causing a lack of oxygen to his brain. But he doesn’t let that define him. “I don’t really look at Cerebral Palsy as something like to be down about. I just keep going.” he said.
He has always used sports as a way to belong, playing baseball and football. But by the time he entered high school, his body couldn’t keep up with his mind. “I wanted to compete, I wanted to be out there” AJ told ESPN. So he became a fan instead. His team was the Crimson Tide. He would go to their team practices and watch them through a gap in the fence. He enrolled at the college, but he had a tough time making friends. “I thought I would be able to just start fresh you know, maybe my difference wouldn’t matter, but no, it’s hard to make friends when you are different.”
The week before their 2012 season opener, the Starr met Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron by chance at a campus bus stop. Two buses left without waiting for Starr, so the QB offered him a ride. They started talking football, and Starr shared his story with McCarron. Eventually Starr asked if there was anyway he could be a part of the team. “He’s such a good kid and he just wanted to be around the game. Learning more about him and I felt like it was my duty to kind of do something for him”
Days later, Starr was working with the teams equipment manager. He’s now in second full season and his duties continue to grow.
Starr says “They are my family here. I have the biggest and best family possible. I’m probably the luckiest guy in the world right now.”
Watch this amazing, inspiring, and heartwarming story to see how the power of sports and friendship can change someones life for the better.