When Tyler Bain was 3 years old, a car accident left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.
“When I first got him in first grade, I had to sit behind him and help him write and help feed him," teaching aide April Smith with the Pine Tree school district told the Longview News-Journal in Texas.
Bain, now 13, is "doing all that on his own, and he has just grown so much,” Smith said.
Much of that growth for Bain has revolved around the realization that raw determination can get him further than most people would imagine.
Take football. A huge pigskin fan (he is a Texan, after all), Bain is all about the gridiron. "I research football, I study football," he told KETK-TV in Tyler, Texas
While his disability prevents him from playing on the field, Bain refused to let it prevent him from being part of his junior high football team — so he approached the coach about becoming the team manager.
"When I first met Tyler, I was under the impression, 'What is this guy going to do for me?'" coach Paul Ellsworth told KETK, adding he soon realized Bain was all business.
"He wanted to help out as much as he could, and every day he asked, 'What can I do? What can I do?' So I started to give him little jobs."
"I hold the game ball, stretching the players out, pumping them up for every game," Bain told KETK.
Bain even keeps the boys academically in line, reminding them to stay on top of their studies. "I keep telling them," Bain told KETK with a hint of sarcasm. "Hopefully they will get it one day."
“He always pumps the kids up,” Ellsworth told the News-Journal. “He’s an inspiration to everybody that meets him. He’s willing to do anything and go above and beyond.”
Including taking his first steps in front of an audience, just to inspire his teammates.
"I'm going to walk on the last game, and hopefully this will give them motivation," Bain told KETK. He said the team's spirit was down in the face of its final opponent, Mount Pleasant, which beat Pine Tree earlier in the season.
"They have in their mind, 'We can't beat them, we cant beat them,'" Bain told KETK. "Now if I can walk on the field, I'll tell them, 'Hey if I can walk, anything is possible; y'all can beat these guys.'"
So Ellsworth named Tyler honorary team captain before Tuesday’s game, and then "I finally got to show what I can do,” Bain told the News-Journal.
A walker was placed in front of his wheelchair, and assisted by Smith, his longtime aide, and his grandfather, Tyler stood up.
And he walked.
None of his teammates had known about his plans, which only added to the cheers and the tears. But Bain walked to midfield, and walked back to his huddled team. Then he spoke to them and led pregame chants.
[sharequote align="right"]"I don't quit, and the next day I get right back up and say, 'Hey, I can do this.'''[/sharequote]
“Tyler has gotten me to be a better man,” Ellsworth told the News-Journal. “He’s helped me look past peoples’ disabilities and look at who they are as a person. He’s touched me in ways I haven’t been touched in a long time.”
Unfortunately Pine Tree lost the game, but it's unlikely his teammate will ever forget witnessing an even bigger victory.
“Even though I’m in a wheelchair, don’t go by what I look like," Bain added. "Go by what I have inside, a heart.”
"I have my ups and downs, I admit it," he told KETK, "but I don't quit, and the next day I get right back up and say, 'Hey, I can do this.'''
Tyler will undergo a tendon-reduction surgery this Thanksgiving in Houston, the News-Journal reported, which will helps straighten out his legs. Not surprisingly, he wants to walk one day without assistance.
“(Doctors) believe in me strongly that I can do that if I really want,” Bain told the News-Journal. “They said if I have that ‘want to’ in me, that I will go after it.”
"You got to work hard, but you can do it," he declared to KETK. "You can do anything you set your mind to."
Check out these clips of Tyler's first steps on the football field as well as his inspiring words to the team afterward, via the News-Journal:
Here's a report from KETK: