“I felt like a clown.” How a footballer without legs played in an official match

In 2005, in a regular-season game in Cincinnati, an unusual player appeared on the field – he had no shoes and no flaps. He made some useful actions, but after the break, the referee did not let him on the field precisely because of the lack of necessary equipment. But Bobby Martin couldn’t wear it because he didn’t have legs. After that match, Martin became a star. He recently died after being hit by a stolen quad bike.

“Hated that feeling”

“It happened for the first time in my life and in my career. I’ve never felt so lousy. I hated it. I felt like a clown. Everyone looked at me and told me I had no legs,” Bobby recalled of that episode.

The situation was further heated by a local radio host who called Martin’s participation in the game a “freak show.” The Ohio State Sports Federation stood up for Bobby and defended his right to compete.

“He didn’t ask for a special attitude towards himself”

Martin had a congenital disease called caudal regression syndrome. In fact, he had no legs and was only 91 centimeters tall. He weighed 55 kg, but that did not prevent him from lifting the 150 kg barbell in the gym. Bobby was an inspiring example for many people with disabilities.

Before the game in Cincinnati, he didn’t make it because of his appearance. Martin admitted that by the time he was 22, he had more than 25 girls.

“He was sincere and straightforward. A true leader. Bobby never asked for special treatment. He knew he was disabled, but he never showed it and didn’t want any favors,” coach Earl White said

Hanging out with Bryant and McConaughey

The humiliation was a psychological blow to him. On the other hand, half of America has learned about Bobby Martin. He understood it, so he tried to prove himself as much as possible on the football field. And he did it.

NFL clubs began inviting Bobby to the games as an honorary guest, and tens of thousands of spectators at the iconic stadiums applauded him. The Green Bay Packers, Kansas Chiefs, Cincinnati Bengals, and other clubs were happy to receive him in their training sessions and matches.

Bobby was regularly invited to popular TV shows. In 2006, he won the prestigious ESPY Award in Los Angeles as the best athlete with disabilities. At parties, Martin constantly crossed paths with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O Neal, Serena Williams, Ludacris, Matthew McConaughey, Kiefer Sutherland.

Journalists from around the world were reporting on a unique footballer without legs. Bobby got married and raised a son. And after the end of his career, he planned a quiet family life and trips to the local stadium to watch the game of future stars of American football