GRANITE BAY (CBS13) — On this picture-perfect day for tennis, on the other side of the net, you can hear Roger Crawford grinding out shot after shot. He’s loving every minute of it.
“I just have so much joy out there playing,” said Roger.
Like a human backboard, his racquet finds the ball with consistency and finesse.
But for Roger, the shots he misses are just as important as those he makes.
Because this is a man whose imperfections have helped shape who he is today.
“And my finger actually got stuck in the racquet. That’s how I learned how to hold it.”
Yes, his finger.
He has just one on his right hand and two on his left.
On the court, the racquet moves as if it’s an extension of his shortened arms.
Roger Crawford was born this way—a rare condition called ectrodactylism which has also left him with just three toes on his right foot and led to his left leg being amputated when he was 5 years old.
“I mean certainly I’ve shed a few tears over my hands and legs, and there’s been some tough times, but as i look at my life on balance, it’s been much more of a blessing than a burden, truly.”
A blessing he wouldn’t change for the world.
“I guess I look at it this way: If I had surgery to give me normal hands and normal legs, I wouldn’t do it.”
As remarkable as that sounds, you grow to understand exactly what this Granite Bay father of four means the more you hear him talk.
When he isn’t playing tennis, Roger Crawford is serving up life lessons. An accomplished speaker, he travels the world, and has given nearly 5,000 speeches, touching countless lives.
“And one of the key messages I want to share with people is there’s a lot in life you can’t choose. I wasn’t able to choose my hands or my legs, but you can choose your attitude. You can choose your outlook.”
His words to live by, like the tennis balls fired his way, keep on coming.
“We can accomplish great things when our desire becomes more powerful than our disappointments. ’Cause the fact is, we’re all gonna face obstacles. We’re all gonna have times when we fail. But how are we gonna respond to that?
How Roger has responded leaves us awestruck and inspired, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
And now his life, based on a simple phrase—“No excuses”—is about to get even better.
Roger will pick up his racquet and travel to New York City to receive the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s most prestigious honor—the Achievement Award.
“When I was growing up, tennis was something that gave me self-confidence. It gave me something that I could identify with as my passion—something that gave me a sense of purpose.”
A purpose-driven life that goes far beyond center court. A life that reminds all of us, our imperfections can be our strength.
“You know, my life’s not different than your life. Everybody faces challenges. They just come in different forms.”
As a freshman in high school, Roger made the varsity team, and he played college tennis as well, ending with a four-year record of 22 wins and 11 losses. He’s also written two books.