BEDFORD HEIGHTS, Ohio - Cleveland native Dartanyon Crockett will compete on the United States judo team at the London Paralympics this August.
"It's just a surreal experience," he said Tuesday night, before a practice match at the Maxout Sports Martial Arts and Fitness Center in Bedford Heights.
Crockett, who's known as "Big D" at Maxout, will never be able to own a driver's license. Severely nearsighted, he's been legally blind since birth. But he didn't let it stop him.
"Life's too short to sit and feel sorry for myself because I have what people consider a disability," he said. "It's something I use to push and make me stronger."
"Living with my dad, he was on drugs for most of my life and we didn't really have a stable place," Crockett said. His mother died when he was 8 years old.
"I had one goal to get from where I was to somewhere better. I didn't care where it was. I didn't care how I got there. I knew I had one goal and I had to do whatever it took to get there," Crockett said.
Crockett was a wrestler when in school at Lincoln West High School. He said judo is less aggressive.
"In judo you work smarter, not harder," he said.
"It's what you dream of as a coach to have a student like that... Someone who's humble enough that his temperament's perfect. He's very aggressive, but at the same time, he's willing to learn," coach Shane Hudson said.
The athlete celebrated his 21st birthday this week with an Olympic-themed cake from Maxout Sports.
Crockett leaves for London on Aug. 23. You can follow his progress at facebook.com/DartanyonCrockettFanPage