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HS Football Player with no legs!


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i just found this story to be absolutely amazing!

Kos Benham tackles life head on with no regrets

Teenager focused on good things in life: family, America, football

By Bob Castello



Kos Benham has a story to tell. More amazing than the story itself is the way he tells it.

As if there are plenty of 17-year-old Russian boys running around on their hands, playing football, putting the necessary distance between himself and the train accident that took his mother's life, and a separate train accident three years later that took his legs.

The accident that robbed him of his legs, like all the bad stuff, is in the past.

"I just forgot about it," Kos said. "Each time when somebody asks me about it, I just remember to tell them it doesn't bother me. Little kids come up to me and say, 'What's wrong with you?' And I'm like, 'Train accident.' "

And he laughed.

He couldn't talk for long during practice for Mann's C team, which is comprised of seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders. Kos was summoned to the middle of the field, taking up his position on the defensive line at nose tackle. He scooted to his spot near the ball and waited for the opportunity to pounce.

From his vantage point a few feet off the ground, Kos had a better view than most of the backfield. On one play, he was buried not far from where he began. On another, he shot through the gap and was the first one to the ball carrier. On some plays he moved to the line head-on; on others he attacked laterally.


Kos wants to be like the others, and his coaches and teammates treat him as such. As far as he's concerned, his story is nothing special.

"He tells it with a real matter-of-fact attitude: 'This is what happened, this is where I am and life is good.' He's very, very simple," said Kim Benham, Kos' mother by adoption. "He just gets down to business with what he wants to do today, and he does not look back. He doesn't have one bit of bitterness in him, which is amazing. That's just God-given."

Is there any limit to his capacity for overcoming adversity? You decide. Kim Benham has made up her mind.

She was there a year ago, signing up her younger son for basketball, when Kos, then minus the advantage of the English language, tugged on her and signaled that he, too, wanted to play basketball. And so he did.

Jeff Sartain, who heads the special education department at Mann, recalled taking Kos around the school and heading for the second floor.

"I'm thinking he's gonna use the elevator," Sartain said, "and that cat hops out of (his wheelchair), flips up on his hands and runs up the steps. He doesn't want to be coddled at all."

Steve Oliver, the C team's defensive coordinator, said the players don't see Kos as any different from them.

"It's a good human story to show that when you don't make a big deal out of it on both sides, kids accept it," Oliver said. "They don't think a thing about it."

You can't say the same for those watching. Mann's C team played Mauldin last Thursday. Jim Phillips went to watch his son, Jared, who plays for Mauldin. He couldn't help but notice Mann's nose tackle.

"It was probably one of the most incredible things in my life," Phillips said. "The determination and the fire in the kid were just incredible. It was just such a testament to the human spirit. I had tears running down my face, and I looked around and everybody else around me did, too.

"It just brought so many things into perspective. The game didn't matter anymore. It was about watching this person, who had to overcome so many handicaps and so many challenges to get to where he was." The day life changedKos (short for Kotsya) was 6 years old when his mother accidentally fell from a train and was killed, he said.

Three years later, while walking home from school, Kos and another boy stopped off to "jump on trains," a frequent pastime. Kos fell onto the track, and the train ran over his legs, severing them just above the knees.

"I remember basically everything," Kos said. "I laid there for two or three hours. It was summer, the sun was burning me, I lost a lot of blood and it was hard."

Eventually a train heading in the other direction picked him up and delivered him to a hospital. He spent some time in a coma and about two years undergoing surgeries and recovering. Then Kos was placed in the Nizny Lomov Orphanage near Penza, where he spent the next four years.

In the summer of 2004, Kos came to Greenville as part of the Hope Program, a Christian mission initiative led by local prosthetic specialist Dean Hesselgrave. Kos stayed with Kim Benham, her husband Dave and their four adopted children.

Kos spent a month with the Benhams. That was enough.

"We were not even seeking to adopt," Kim said. "We had four kids, and we were done. We kept him that month and absolutely fell in love with him. There were many families that would have adopted him, just because of how contagious he is and how wonderful he is to be around. But I was already mother hen. I said, 'Nope, I got him. He's in my home. I'm keeping him.' "

One year from the day they met Kos, the Benhams completed his adoption in a court in Russia. While there, they visited the orphanage.

"He really ended up in a wonderful place," Kim said. "They didn't have anything as far as a nice place to live, but they were self-sufficient. Everything was under one roof. They went to school there, the doctors came there to see them, they grew their own food and they had each other. It was beautiful to see how well they cooperated. They worked together like a well-oiled machine."

Kos played a lot of soccer in the orphanage, but that was about it for his sports background. Nonetheless, he has been interested in making up for lost time since coming to America. Life in AmericaHe attended Greenville Middle School for the last two years. Kim enrolled Kos at Mann, which is known for its special education department.

Kos practiced with the wrestling team at Eastside as an eighth-grader. He has been involved in wheelchair basketball and baseball, a feat in itself considering he had never seen a wheelchair before coming to America.

Kos became used to zipping around on a board with small wheels attached underneath when he was in the orphanage. Kim said the board remains special to him, but he finally agreed to getting a wheelchair a year ago. He has prosthetics, but Kim said the last time he wore them was the eighth-grade dance, "so he could dance with a pretty girl."

"He doesn't wear them unless it's a real special occasion, because they just slow him down," she said.

Max Clymer, one of Kos' special education teachers, is also the coach of the Mann C team. He asked Kos if he had ever played football. That was the only nudge Kos needed.

"He came to our spring practice and did not have our slowest (40-yard dash) time," Clymer said. "And he's physical. He will hit you. It's not like he's out here just to run around."

Against Mauldin, Kos entered the game in the second half.

"When I first saw him, I thought this is a kid who's gonna come in and play for one play, just so the coaches can say he played," said Jim Phillips, the Mauldin parent. "Then I watched him play, and I thought, that's not the case. This kid is talented."

On his first play against Mauldin, Kos made the tackle. On the next, he recovered a fumble.

"He'll tackle the biggest guys," said Dustin Brantley, a freshman lineman who has become good friends with Kos. "He's tackled me before." One of the guysPerhaps most satisfying to Kos was the reaction of his opponents the next night, when the Mauldin and Mann varsity teams played. Kos said all the players from the Mauldin C team came over to the Mann side to visit with him.

"They said, 'You were good. I'm sorry I was squashing you,' " Kos said. "I said, 'Man, no problem, I've had bigger guys than you on my team lay on me.' "

Clymer said Kos is one of the guys. He keeps up with them, and they have to keep up with him.

"When the kids are running," Clymer said, "they can't be tired. They can't say a word. Here's Kos going, and he never says a word."

Said Oliver, the defensive coordinator: "He's amazing. When you see him, it's really hard to come out here as a coach or a player and feel sorry for yourself when you're having a hard day. He's an inspiration."

At the end of each practice, one of the coaches carries Kos -- piggy-back style -- to his wheelchair. It saves him from sitting in a wet chair.

"I'm happy. My life is great," he said. "I'm glad to be here, and I'm grateful that my family adopted me."

just goes to show you that whatever problems life has dealt you, there's usually someone worse off making the best of his :censored:ty situations.

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He's not the first legless player in the last few years. There was another player, but I don't remember the school system. He gained notoriety because of a situation with officials. Since the player was only about 2 1/2 feet tall, every contact he made with someone was below their waist, and technically illegal in many cases. He also did not wear knee pads (obviously, with no knees), which also violated a state football rule.

It was a gray area for the referees to deal with. They were correct when dealing with the interpretation of the rule, but chastised for not bending the rules for this specific player and situation.

The officials were not reprimanded, but the player was allowed to participate in further games.

Good for both the players to overcome their handicap.

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