Back to reality: Man still striving to help young athletes despite losing foot

BAUXITE – In the world of sports, achieving personal and professional goals is everything to an individual athlete. Whether it be a basketball, football or baseball player or even a professional ping pong champion, goals are what keep an athlete motivated to be better and to become what he or she has set out to accomplish.

But when one loses a foot right above the ankle and is forever changed, how can that athlete stay motivated to battle past reality and still achieve those goals?

For one Arkansas man, living vicariously through the life of a child athlete is the right answer. Brian Davis, a 1998 graduate of J.A. Fair in Little Rock and a sports camp promoter, recently lost his left foot after finding out that he is a diabetic.

“(The doctors) told me that if I didn’t get my foot cut off right then, in two-and-a-half weeks, I would be dead,” Davis said.

Davis was a “healthy” man who loved the game of basketball and football and set his life goals to helping child athletes around the state to become even better as they got older. “I was healthy as a bull,” Davis said. “I was working out regularly and helping kids over the summer.”

Earlier this year, Davis was part of a wedding party that called for tight shoes to be worn. After wearing the shoes around for a little while, Davis’ leg started to swell. Not thinking much of it initially — until the swelling didn’t go away — Davis scheduled a doctor’s appointment to see what was causing the prolonged swelling.

“A couple of weeks before the wedding, I had cut my foot,” Davis said. “It wasn’t even really a cut. It was more of a skin peel, and it didn’t hurt or anything. The doctor came in and said that I needed to have the surgery as soon as possible or it was going to eat my whole leg up,” Davis added.

After living the better part of his life as a basketball and football star, Davis now faced the harsh reality that he might never be able to catch another football or shoot another basket.
His whole mindset changed.

“I went into straight depression mode,” Davis said. “I’m a Christian, so I prayed about it one day and they cut it off the next. I went in on April 1, 2012, and on April 9 I was getting my foot amputated.”

Davis didn’t stop at the high school level with his athletic skills. He took his football talents to Lincoln University in Missouri, where he was named first team All-Conference three years in a row.

Now that he’s an adult, Davis has turned his full focus to helping kids become better at sports and life in general. Before his surgery, he was the host and promoter of “Brian Davis Football Camps” before changing it to “Brian Davis Sports Camps.” However, now that he is mostly in a wheelchair, he has changed the name of his camps to “Reach for the Stars” in hopes of also sending a message that “no matter what happens in life, never quit.”

“This is not about Brian Davis. This is about kids and reaching for the stars,” Davis said. “No matter if they want to be a doctor or lawyer or a professional athlete, they can do it.”

Davis founded his program eight years ago and it is still going strong today.

“I was motivated to do this before my surgery,” Davis said. “But now I am much more motivated to do this because practice makes permanent.”

That was a saying that Davis learned from his football coach when he was kid and has lived by it every day since.

“I like to teach kids that you can do anything you want in life and that dreams really do come true,” Davis said. “That is my main motto.”

Now that Davis is out of the hospital and recovering from his amputation, he has gotten back on the football field and is back to helping child athletes succeed. This past weekend, he brought in 2012 Super Bowl champion and Camden native Stacey Andrews for a lineman and tight end camp at Bauxite High School. The two-day camp had a turnout of 175 kids who learned everything from catching the football to blocking off the offensive and defensive lines.

“Stacey is really the one that really motivated me when I got out of the hospital,” Davis said. “He said this is just a setback for a great comeback. He said that he would be there for me through thick and thin and that we are going to ride this thing out until the wheels fall off.”

Davis said that within the next month, he hopes to have two basketball camps here in Saline County: a WNBA camp for the girls and an NBA camp for the boys. Davis has plenty of contacts with professional athletes such as Darren McFadden, Joe Johnson, Torii Hunter and many more. He hopes to bring these athletes to the county to allow the surrounding athletes to learn from the pros.

Davis’ future plans include holding a baseball camp with Hunter around the Benton area.

As for his next football camp, Davis said that he will be back at Bauxite for another two-day camp this fall.

More information regarding future camps, including registration information, will appear in The Saline Courier.