Born with Leber’s disease and growing up in impoverished Cleveland, Ohio, Dartanyon Crockett has overcome incredible odds to become a world champion judo Paralympian. Dartanyon’s mother died when he was eight and his father struggled with a drug and alcohol addiction, which made wrestling an important outlet for his high school career. Another important part of Dartanyon’s high school experience was Leroy Sutton.
Dartanyon and Leroy were two disabled high school wrestlers. Leroy, who lost his legs in a childhood train accident, was often found on the back of the legally blind and homeless Dartanyon. Together, they helped each other through school — Dartanyon carrying Leroy up the stairs as there was no elevator and Leroy reading the print on Dartanyon’s assignments. Dartanyon’s and Leroy’s cheerful and unparalleled friendship added a bit of light to the dark and dreary halls of the poor, inner-city public school they attended.
Dartanyon and Leroy’s incredible story was chronicled in the ESPN specials “Carry On” and “Carry On: Why I Stayed,” which shared the story of the ESPN producer, Lisa Fenn, who became like an adoptive mother to the boys. Called the “best story ESPN had ever aired,” both pieces touched many lives and encouraged many viewers to give back.
As a result, Dartanyon received a life-changing offer from the United States Olympic Committee in 2010; he was invited to learn the Paralympic sport of judo at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He trained relentlessly and catapulted past athletes who had been training their whole lives to secure a spot in the on the Paralympic team at the 2012 London games. He secured the bronze medal. He continues to travel around the world competing and most recently won gold at the World Championships.
Up next, Lisa will release her memoir about the experience, titled Carry On. The book rights were purchased by Walden Media and Nate Parker has signed on to direct the film adaptation.
Dartanyon is currently studying social work at Pikes Peak Community College. He hopes to compete in the Paralympics until 2020.
"Lisa and Dartanyon did an AMAZING job!!! The audience really responded well to their Keynote! There wasn't a dry eye in the house. They even received several standing ovations. I am so happy they were able to come to the event and share their story! Thank you for all of your help!"- Franklin Covey