Flowizm by rattlesplash (via Flickr - CC BY 2.0)

I have always been told that everything in life happens for a reason. When adversity strikes, something great is waiting around the corner and it’s up to you to battle through and seek it out. Cyclist Moise Brutus is a living example of a person who never gave up despite great misfortune. In 2010, Brutus was riding his motorcycle on a turnpike in Miami when he was struck by a vehicle, crushing his motorcycle and leaving him sprawled in a ditch. In an attempt to call for help, Brutus reached for his phone only to realize his left arm was gone and so were his two legs. Instead of panicking like a majority of people would have done, Brutus found the strength within to reach with his right arm, retrieve the phone, and dial 9-1-1.

Most people would not have been able to find the strength to battle and survive that terrible accident. I even grapple with what I would have been capable of doing in such a traumatic situation. However, Brutus did not give up that day, and he hasn’t since. After four years of intense therapy riding a stationary bike, Brutus realized that he could physically cycle and that he was actually good at cycling and enjoyed it. Now, four years later, Moise Brutus is a thriving college athlete at Marian University in Indiana. He is a member of the university’s nationally recognized cycling team. Not only is he a standout on a team of superior cyclists, but he is greatly respected for his overwhelming drive and perseverance.

Brutus’s story serves to remind us of true athletic virtue and excellence. Brutus worked for everything and never gave up despite being a triple amputee; a setback most people would never find the strength to overcome. The IndyStar reports that he is thankful every day that he is alive and never takes a day of training for granted. He has even given his teammates a new perspective on overcoming hardships and disadvantages.

Brutus’s story is inspiring and rare in contrast to the recent NFL scandals. These athletes seem to have a totally different perspective when it comes to hardships. Although they are talented and probably did work hard to reach the elite level of NFL play, they are blinded by privilege, rather than awakened by it. Their fame as athletes has given them an air of invincibility, and for some, this privilege has led them to falsely believe that they can get away with acts of violence. They have in many ways taken for granted their privilege and have failed to use their talents to inspire others through athletic excellence and virtue.

So the question becomes, what responsibilities should those with privilege have?

In the athletic world, very few are granted the opportunity to play at a professional level. Every roster spot is an honor and should be treated like one. As one person makes the team, another is cut. It is a privilege to be given the chance to play on a professional team. Therefore, professional athletes need to be leaders on and off the field. They represent more than just themselves in everything they do. Their actions reflect not only on their families, but their teammates, their league, their fans, and the states that they represent. If Brutus can accept being a triple amputee as a ‘privilege’ because it opened his eyes to what is really important in life, then we all can do more with what we have in life. He has raised the bar of what others with privilege are capable of doing, and what we ought to be doing.