The ESPN documentary began with a question: “Through it all, what would you do for a friend?”
What Dartanyon Crockett did for his friend was to physically carry him wherever he needed to go.
Crockett is legally blind. His best friend, Leroy Sutton, was an amputee. They both were wrestlers at their urban Cleveland high school and Crockett carried Sutton on his back virtually everywhere: onto the bus in the mornings for school and to the edge of the mat at every competition. See the YouTube film, “High School Teammates and Wrestlers Carry On.”
ESPN captured the story in a documentary and, led by producer Lisa Fenn, is in London to journal more of Crockett’s amazing journey. Crockett and Sutton remain great friends but have each gone their own way. Nearly a week ago Crockett stepped off a plane in London to represent his country at the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Said Fenn: "Our viewers fell in love with Dartanyon when he appeared on our network in 2009 and displayed unprecedented generosity to lift him out of his difficult circumstances. We are so excited to share what he has made of his life since then. He continues to inspire, to amaze and to defy all the odds against him."
Paralympic leaders at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, saw the film and invited Crockett to join a group of talented young athletes brought to the OTC to expose them to different paralympic sports. USA Judo’s Director of High Performance, Eddie Liddie, noticed Crockett’s innate ability and began his training. Fenn and her ESPN crew were at the OTC in June catching up with Crockett about his life, how far he’d come and the road to London.
Among those in London rooting for Crockett is his high school wrestling coach, Justin Hons. “He has gained so much perspective, self-discipline and, in general, has been becoming an adult before our eyes.”
“As a wrestler he was always been powerful and explosive,” Hons said. “Today I see so much more technique and grace as he sends his opponents flying into the air.”
“Dartanyon has so many people rooting for him back in Cleveland,” Hons said. “Guys he has trained with, teachers who he had along the way, and friends who truly understand the magnitude of his amazing journey. We are all excited to watch him compete for gold this week.”
- Story by Ernest Pund, USA Judo Communications