DAVID PRINCE — ON HOW HE OVERCAME ADDICTION & LOSS AND BECAME A PARALYMPIAN MEDALIST FOR TEAM USA
By Eva J. Clark
David Prince is one of the most motivating athletes you will ever talk to.
Overcoming the life-changing, earth shattering loss of his leg at a young age, he has since become a medal-winning Paralympic athlete and adaptive athlete fundraiser.
Yet when asked why he does what he does it all comes back to the kids.
He is pushed by an urge to inspire children to reach for and attain their dreams.
By using his social media platforms, he showcases his adventures and a behind the scenes look into what it takes to be an exceptional adaptive athlete.
As well as showcasing other athletes: professional, up-and-coming, and children, in the adaptive sports world.
We sat down with him (via email as he is a busy man) to get a view into the thrilling and endlessly interesting life he has created:
Is there anything you’ve been surprised that your body can do, or maybe even do better since you became paraplegic?
Actually, that’s the first misconception when I mention that I am a Paralympian.
I am considered a unilateral below the knee amputee. It’s a common misconception.
The Paralympics simply refers to being parallel to the Olympics.
As far as if there is anything I am surprised I can do, I never thought I would become a professional athlete. I never dreamt of running 400m in under 50 seconds.
I never imagined I would break three world records. I never fathomed that I would travel the world and win medals on the international stage.
After my accident, I refused to be told I couldn’t do something. That drive set me up for reaching levels I never thought I could ever achieve. I simply refused to believe anyone who said I couldn’t.
Do you mind strangers asking about your leg or do you feel it’s a topic you would rather choose whether or not to share?
For many people, it is hit or miss on if they like talking about their amputation. I, for one, view it like this… no matter where I go, I am the most famous person in the room simply because I am missing a leg and walking on this piece of carbon fiber.
I have come to embrace the questions and the attention. I know I will get attention whether I want it or not so I have learned to want it.
Especially questions from little kids, they always ask me the best, most honest questions that no adult would even dream of asking. I love those questions and welcome them. If anything, those questions tend to make my day a little more fulfilling.
I think you start to really understand just how amazing the human body is when you learn how an athlete with various disabilities must adapt to make up for what able bodied athletes take for granted.
For me, I am always fighting the constant asymmetry of my body as a unilateral amputee.
This means I have to understand why and how my muscles work a certain way beyond what most able bodied athletes, even top tier athletes, understand.
So I welcome the questions because it opens up the eyes of the average person on just how amazing the human body really is.
Would you mind sharing with our readers the story behind how you lost your leg?
My story is definitely a crazy one and by grace I am still here to tell it.
Long story short, I was a teenager who had gotten himself into the drug culture following my parents divorce.
When I was 18 I decided to buy a motorcycle, thinking I could continue a life of drugs and use the crotch rocket to outrun any trouble I could get myself into.
I only had the bike for 5 days before I crashed into a median going 140 mph.
I hit a guardrail and lost my leg on impact. I also had broken several other bones and was in a medically induced coma for over a week. I am lucky to be alive, let alone run, and it’s even more amazing that I can run as a professional athlete.
What was your training routine before your accident? How has it changed?
Before my accident I was not an athlete. I swam on occasions and would run for fun because I grew up running with my dad.
However, there was no training before my accident. I was very lost before my accident. I continued to struggle with a less than ideal lifestyle following my accident.
I ended up finding athletics as a replacement drug essentially.
I spent all of my free time at the gym, began doing some triathlons before being sponsored and introduced to the concept of adaptive sports and the Paralympics.
Eventually I learned I could run in circles really fast and that is how I stuck with being a Paralympic sprinter in Track and Field for Team USA.
It has been a wild ride for sure and I don’t think I can even compare who I am now to who I was before I lost my leg.
What motivated you to get back to athletics after your accident and what would be the most important thing you would tell someone after they experienced something similar?
As I said before, athletics became my replacement drug. I am also someone who does not like being told I can’t do something. I was determined to live a full life. I was determined to run again. I was going to find a way.
And this was all before I even knew I had any gift in running. I simply didn’t want someone to tell me I could not do something.
To anyone who is going through a life altering change, be it an amputation, mental struggles, overcoming drug addiction, overcoming relationship issues, I would say to never allow anyone to tell you what you can’t do, including yourself.
You may need to adapt to your struggle, you may need to change some things in your life and others wont understand, but never let anyone tell you that you can’t overcome any obstacle that stands between you and your calling.
You can do anything if you’re willing to get up every day and make it happen. Sometimes you may feel like you're phoning it in and that’s ok. Just show up. Make it count.
What are your go-to supplements other than Double Helix Water?
I don’t really use supplements other than creatine and BCAA’s. I sure do love my DHW, though! I never leave home without it.
Who inspires you?
Honestly, children and their ability to overcome just about any obstacle that stands in their way.
Children are not easily defeated.
Anytime I can be around a child, I am inspired to be like them… undefeated.
You mention how much you love questions from children. Our company is run by parents of small children, so we have a deep love for their infinitely exciting view of the world. What’s the best question a child has asked you?
There are so many awesome questions that kids have asked me, I don’t know if I can even pick one!
The most recent memorable question was when a little girl at the dog park asked me if I could feel her tickling me on my prosthetic leg.
When she learned I couldn’t feel anything, she and her friend proceeded to put dirt, sticks, and little dinosaur toys on the back of my prosthetic.
My wife just laughed watching them have a grand time giggling and playing on my leg while I was deep in conversation with their parents. It took me a minute to even figure out what they were doing.
Kids are the best!
Tell us about your goals for the future and of course, your fundraiser.
My wife and I have some really exciting things happening for 2020 leading up to the Tokyo Games in late August. March will launch our “Road Trip to Tokyo” tour where we will be traveling to cities with adaptive meets across the country to promote adaptive sports and the Paralympic movement.
This is going to be showcased as a youtube series and available on all our social media platforms. We will showcase our adventures and a bit of a behind the scenes look into what it takes to be an adaptive athlete. We also hope to showcase other exceptional athletes, both professional and up and coming, in the adaptive sports world. Ultimately, we want to open the door for marketing and promoting adaptive athletes on a larger scale for future generations of adaptive athletes.
It takes a few dollars to make something like this happen. I have been in the Paralympic movement for over a decade and my wife has a background in marketing and graphic design.
The gifts given through our “Road Trip to Tokyo” fundraiser will go towards essentials in the day to day travels plus it will assist in our ability to reach a larger audience and make a positive impact in the lives of people around the world.
Click the link below to find out more about David’s Fundraiser:
Check out David on social media through the links listed below: