Modesto teen, who is blind celebrates his first touchdown
MODESTO, Calif. (KTVU, KTXL) - Thirteen-year-old Jasen Bracy Jr. doesn't believe in obstacles.
The Modesto teen is totally blind. He lost his sight at the age of 7, as a result of retinal cancer. But he hasn't let that get in the way of working to achieve his goals.
That determination was demonstrated this weekend when he made his first touchdown for his youth football team, the Modesto Raiders.
He did it with the help of his father, Jasen Bracy Sr.
"Any hit is a blindside hit to him," the dad explained to KTXL Fox 40.
So Bracy Sr. uses a microphone and speaker implanted his son's helmet to act as his eyes on the field.
"Once the play starts... four, you know, straight, straight, to your right, and he picks up most of it just listening," the dad explained. "He can tell which way the play is going."
On Saturday, with the Modesto Raiders just five yards away from a touchdown, Bracy Jr. was in position to score. And with dad in his ears, he followed through.
"You know, hut. He gets the ball, the line stays tight, and they kind of form a wedge," the dad explained as he recalled the play.
Bracy Jr. remembered every moment and every emotion that touchdown brought.
"One of my teammates said to spike the ball, so I did that," the teen said. "The feeling I had was, like, great because it feels, it's my first touchdown in my first year of playing football."
His coach, David Nichols, couldn't have been happier to see how well it was executed.
"It's like a wall, and it's just, he can hide right behind there and it just, and it worked. The first time we used it, man. It was beautiful," Nichols said.
The coach is no stranger to the teen's undaunted spirit of determination. He decided to give Bracy Jr. a chance to play on his team after getting numerous calls from him, just pleading for a chance on the field.
"He was blowing my phone up," Nichols said. And because he didn't want turn the teen away, he invited both father and son to come give it a try.
The Modesto Raiders was just one of the many teams Bracy Jr. contacted.
"So, I called five different teams," the teen said, "and all five said I can't play."
"No" is not a word Bracy Jr. accepts easily. Not only has he taken on the game of football, he's also played youth baseball.
And the memorable moment over the weekend has only inspired him to take his athletic accomplishments further.
He's told his coach that he wants to throw a touchdown pass and record a sack this season.
Those who know him have very little doubt he'll make it happen.
Some of the greatest athletes have the gift to inspire their teammates, fans and, even their coaches. This weekend, no doubt Bracy Jr.'s heart, determination, and passion did just that: inspire.
"It was probably one of the greatest feelings I've had in my life," his coach said.
This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.