SI Writers: 2011 Sportsman Nominees

Eric LeGrand
Photo: Noah K. Murray/US Presswire

Eric LeGrand

By David Epstein

"If sports are supposed to charge us with emotion, make us laugh and cry in a safe environment, then Eric LeGrand is an amazing athlete. He has elicited whoops from school children and forced veteran journalists to cover the phone so that he couldn't hear them weep. Not simply for happiness or sadness or a feeling of why-me luck -- though those certainly play a part -- but because of how heartening it is to see someone try at something so wholeheartedly and without self-pity. The crying, perhaps, because the person on the other line is suddenly taking account of everything worthwhile in his or her life, and realizing that if a bit of LeGrand perseverance could be bottled and sprinkled into everyday life, then the world would be a better place. Picture LeGrand in his wheelchair, with his mother Karen by his side, answering his Bluetooth with a joyful "What up, dog?" Because, if you're like me, it's probably the most profound thing you'll think about today."

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