Heart of a Champion – Carl “Sugarfoot” Joseph

One of my favorite aspects of being involved with Life Leadership‘s monthly personal development subscriptions is getting excellent books mailed directly to our home without me wasting a lot of time researching and ordering books (or driving to a book store) with a hit-or-miss quality track record. The convenience is nice, but the quality of the books received never disappoints. August’s LLR subscription included the amazing book, Edgy Conversations by Dan Waldschmidt. The very very first sentence of the prologue grabs you and from that point on, the book never lets you go.

In this amazing perspective-changing work, the author shares a story about Carl “Sugarfoot” Joseph. Carl Joseph was elected to the Florida High School Athletic Hall of Fame on Feb. 23, 2009. CBS Sports Dan Dierdorf calls him “the most amazing athlete I’ve ever seen.” Carl’s unprecedented exploits have been memorialized in this video (below), using old game footage that had been lost to Carl for the last 29 years. To quote Dan Waldschmidt,

Carl "Sugarfoot" Joseph

Carl “Sugarfoot” Joseph

“Carl ‘Sugarfoot’ Joseph was born in Madison, FL, a little east of the state capital. The fourth of ten children, he was raised by a single mom. They were a poor family living in the country without any real access to recreation or sports facilities.

And that’s probably why Carl worked so hard to become a star athlete. Growing up, he played basketball and street football. He fought with the older boys, and it taught him to be tough. He would get thrown violently to the ground but spring back up and launch himself back into the action.

In seventh grade, he made the basketball team. Standing under the rim, he would jump straight up and dunk the basketball. And that was just the beginning.

In high school, he played basketball and football and ran track, setting records in almost every sport. At one track event, he high jumped 5’8″ then turned around and threw the shotput 40 feet and the discus 130 feet. And in one football game against much bigger, double-teaming opponents, Carl exploded with 11 tackles, an interception and a blocked punt. The young superstar didn’t let down one bit as he made the transition to college. He played middle linebacker at Bethune-Cookman University, where five of his teammates went on to play in the NFL. The Wildcats won their conference championship and a lot of it had to do with the inspiration that came directly from Carl. You see, Carl was born without a left leg.

Every competition Carl participated in was a lopsided event: everyone else running, turning and jumping on two feet while Carl did it all hopping on one. No prosthesis. No crutch. Just heartWhen asked by an interviewer what his limitations were, Carl said, ‘I don’t have any.’


So . . . what was your excuse again?”


After reading this brief summary, I was inspired to learn more about Carl and came across the following video which shows the 1-legged “Sugarfoot” playing defensive lineman, pursuing QB’s and running backs and making one-handed tackles in the process. It’s truly amazing and I trust you will be happy with your decision to spend the next 2:27 watching it.

There are simply too many examples of young and old men and women who, in spite of seemingly impossible set-backs, go out and achieve amazing success. Carl Joseph is one that further confirms the statement that,


If the dream is big enough, the facts don’t count!


Isn’t it time that we all recognize the greatness inside of ourselves and one another? Isn’t it time that instead of trying to learn the next “success secret” we actually dump all the baggage between our ears that has kept tripping us up and making us fail? Isn’t it time we go out and win in life, like Carl “Joseph” Sugarfoot has exemplified so well with the life he’s been blessed with and the attitude he’s chosen along the way?

The choice is ours and ours alone. May we choose wisely.

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