During matches, his father acts as his eyes from the sidelines, speaking to him through a walkie-talkie to narrate the visuals.
Jasen Bracy was just a toddler when he developed retinal cancer. By the time he turned seven years old, he'd lost vision in both eyes. However, this never stopped the Los Angeles youth from dreaming big or doing what's necessary to achieve them even when others said he couldn't do it. Thanks to his determination to defy all odds, the 15-year-old is now a starting quarterback who has proved himself to be a merciless athlete on the football field. "I never used even once that I can't see as an excuse. Never have, never will," Bracy, who lives in Modesto, California, told CNN. "I told my team that the only difference between me and the other quarterback is that he has a different number, and that's it."
Meet the 15-year-old blind quarterback hoping to reach the NFL https://t.co/v5oMWBkgzx— CNN (@CNN) October 23, 2021
The Modesto Raiders starting quarterback revealed that his love for the sport began at a young age when he'd spend three days a week every football season, listening to his father narrate every detail of the matches. He soon realized that football was his passion and that he wanted to make a name for himself in the sport. "Maybe one day I'll be on TV on the football field myself," Bracy said he told himself every day. "There's no limits, and if there's something in the way, I'll find out how to get around it or over it. I'll find a way to achieve my goal in the best way possible."
On Saturday night in Modesto, California, a blind youth football player named Jasen Bracy led his team to a big win. https://t.co/VMq5SvZuAa— CBS Local (@cbslocal) September 27, 2021
However, when the youngster shared his dream with his parents, their response was: "No way!", said his dad, who is also named Jasen Bracy, reports CBS News. "How is this going to be possible for him to get out there and play?" But Bracy was determined to give it a shot. When his parents gave him an iPhone to offer more accessibility options, the 13-year-old immediately got to work, calling every football team in the area and asking if their coaches would be willing to give him a try without his parents knowing.
"All of a sudden, one day we get a call from Coach David Nichols saying, 'Hey, I got a call from your son asking if he can come play football for us, but did he say he was blind?'" said Jasen Bracy Sr. While many teams rejected Bracy, Nichols — who coaches the Modesto Raiders — was ready to give the youngster a chance. "When I first took him on I was a little skeptical, but once I saw him as a person, I knew this kid could do anything," Nichols revealed. "I've always accepted him, but I was like 'How am I going to do this?' Once you see him out there it's different."
Bracy made the most of the opportunity by quickly mastering the techniques needed to play football without seeing the field, players, or ball. He memorized every play and where every player is supposed to be on the field. During matches, his father acts as his eyes from the sidelines, speaking to him through a walkie-talkie to narrate the visuals. "He knows where to be at, where to hand the ball off, where the kid's going to be at, he knows how to get the points," Nichols said. In September, Bracy led his team to a victory by scoring a running touchdown during a match against a team that had rejected him.
Most opposing teams never even realize the Modesto Raiders starting quarterback is blind, and Bracy doesn't feel the need to tell them. "I don't tell them, not before or after the game, so they don't even think about easing up on me," he said. "I'm the quarterback, and one of the quarterback's jobs is leading the team. As a leader, I have to take control of this team, lead them through good and bad times, no matter the situation I have to get us through. And I'm tough as iron. I am going to play hard."
"Just seeing him, he shows me there's nothing you can't do, and that reflects on the other kids. Ever since he's been on my team, the team gravitates around him," Nichols said. "It changes their whole outlook on life. He makes the season. Even if we don't win, just having that chemistry with the team has probably been one of the best things I've ever been around." Although he excels in numerous sports including swimming, golf, baseball, and wrestling, Bracy admitted that his heart lies in football and that he is currently working toward reaching the National Football League.