Local News

One Leg, One Tough Lineman

Posted September 17, 1998

— For most people, it takes two legs to run, play football and march in place.

However, one high school sophomore in Fayetteville is balancing school and athletics without two legs to stand on.

"I think he has more courage than any of us," one teammate said. "If we see we are doing bad, we just look at him and keep going."

The players on the Douglas Byrd High School junior varsity football team look at James Kettell and see a fearless football player who can take anyone on.

"I'm not different than anybody else," Kettell said.

The 16-year-old sophomore says he is just like everybody else and his coaches agree.

"James doesn't want any special treatment, and he doesn't need it," assistant coach Terry McNeill said. "He can do what all the others can. He just looks different on the field."

James Kettell looks different on the field because he only has one leg.

At age eight, he lost his left leg to cancer. He says he felt sorry for himself at first but then one day it hit him.

"I saw everybody playing and doing other activities," Kettell said. "I felt left out so I just went out there and started playing."

He is now playing for the high school, and playing tough. Kettell has earned his spot as a starting defensive lineman.

"It's amazing to see him do what he does," one teammate said.

"Being out on the football field sometimes, I forget I only have one leg," Kettell said.

His teammates and coaches don't want to forget that a young man facing adversity has a reason to stand proud.

James is not just a star on the field. In gym class last week, he jumped eight feet-six inches in the standing long jump. He is also active in Junior ROTC.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all