Dartanyan Crockett Wins Cleveland Amateur Athlete of the Year

By Ernest Pund | Jan. 24, 2014, 2:17 p.m. (ET)

Dartanyon Crockett, who overcame extraordinary obstacles to take a bronze medal at the Paralympic Games in London and inspire the world with his story featured in two ESPN documentaries, has won the Greater Cleveland Sports Award as Amateur Athlete of the Year.

Crockett was born with a disease that left him legally blind. He grew up in a Cleveland neighborhood of crime and illegal drug use. But Crockett found shelter and ability in his own willpower, a breathtaking friendship with a fellow high school wrestler and the goodness of others.

Asked what superhero he’d like to be, Crockett recently responded: “I don’t know if I’d really want to be a superhero. Because there is no super power greater than the human heart, no super power that can outdo will power, and me being someone else won’t really change that.”

Crockett has demonstrated time and again that he has tremendous heart and willpower. His friendship with Leroy Sutton, who lost his legs in a train accident, and school sports became a haven from the dangers around him. At Lincoln West High School, he ran track, competed in high jump, played football and twice became a Senate Wrestling League champion. He also set an Ohio state record as a high school power lifter, dead lifting 585 pounds. All of his victories, Crockett has dedicated to the mother he lost at the age of eight.

Crockett was surrounded by others with heart. His high school buddy, Sutton, was also a successful wrestler. The two carried each other, often literally with Leroy on Crockett’s back as they made their way to school and wrestling matches. Their story came to the attention of then ESPN producer Lisa Fenn. Their plight and inspiring survival quickly gained national attention.

Fenn remained close to Crockett and Sutton, assisting them with the flood of opportunity that ensued after their life story was broadcast. Crockett and Sutton were invited to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where USA Judo’s Director of High Performance, Eddie Liddie, noted Crockett’s potential. There began his path to Paralympic stardom.

After Crockett won his bronze medal at the Paralympic Games in London last summer, ESPN ran a second follow-up story on Crockett, Sutton and Fenn’s support of the two young men. See the ESPN follow-up documentary on YouTube at http://youtu.be/R7b9DJQZtps.

Crockett remains a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where he is preparing for the next Paralympic Games, slated for Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and all the Paralympic World Championships and other elite tournaments along the way.

Presented by Medical Mutual and FirstMerit Bank, the 14th Annual Greater Cleveland Sports Awards on Jan. 24 honored the best and brightest of the area's amateur and professional sports. Crockett was among three finalists selected for the Amateur Athlete of the Year, alongside Lee Kiefer, USA Fencing, Cleveland, and Jason Pryor, USA Fencing, South Euclid.

For more information on the event, go to: http://www.clevelandsports.org/news.aspx