Whenever we see someone with a disability, it's easy to paint them as victims. Unless, of course, they're supervillains. Still, there are people in this world who have taken that disability and body-slammed victimhood balls-first through a table made of middle fingers -- probably while screaming, "OOOOH YEEEAAAH!"
There are so many more stories out there than a single article can do justice in covering, which is why Jeremy wrote a book about it, called The Ables. It casts children with disabilities into a light they are rarely, if ever, cast into: the role of the superhero. That book is available on Amazon, Audible, iBooks ... you know, everywhere. Cracked's own David Wong wrote a blurb for it, a debt that will live long into the eventual heat death of our Universe. Since we have yet to figure out a proper transaction, we'll contribute an article about real-life Ables. Starting with:
#5. Nick Vujicic Doesn't Need Limbs To Own The World
Nick Vujicic is an Aussie motivational speaker with tetra-amelia syndrome, which is a somehow more awful way of saying that he was born without arms or legs. Nick noticed early on in life that others around him also struggled with a terrible disability: They were born raging assholes. Teased constantly and unable to see a happy future, Nick nearly took his own life at the age of 10, but, realizing the harm it would do to his family, he decided not to go through with it. By the age of 17, he began telling his life story to small groups of people, which ballooned over time, and now he speaks in packed arenas all over the world, delivering his message of hope. Meanwhile, some of you out there reading this have all your limbs, all your faculties, and all you can do is sit on a couch and nitpick movies all day. We're looking at you, CinemaSins (full disclosure: We're CinemaSins).
Vujicic began the Life Without Limbs Organization and tells his story in more than 54 countries around the world. And sure, his motivational speaking is faith-based, which means a bunch of you just said to yourselves, "I'm an atheist, so now it's time to stop reading this and enter a Photoshop contest." To which we say, "You don't have to declare that you're an atheist to yourself all the time. You should understand that inherently without having to state it out loud."
Still ... what can he actually do, other than tell people around the world that they have hope in their lives? Did we mention Nick can swim? That dude can totally swim. Here he is insulting your laziness, and if that's not good enough, here he is surfing all over your prejudices. Basically, he spends a lot of time doing things most of us are too busy compiling all the family histories of Game Of Thrones to try. He's the ultimate "if he can do it, I can do it," example. And that's what his motivational speeches are all about.
Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images
Here he is about to swim with sharks, and then presumably convince them to follow Jesus.
Still ... you're probably saying, "Great. He's a motivational speaker. What kind of a life can he actually have with no arms and no legs? I grade people's overall worth by the sex they can and can't have, so let's be real for a minute." I'm paraphrasing you in a hypothetical situation, which makes this quote about as accurate as a dog's eyewitness testimony in a cat-murder case. But, we know you thought something similar to that, and you've never read a Cracked article before, and you're reading this with all of your delusions intact, which will make this all the sweeter when we tell you that Vujicic got married in 2012 and fathered a child shortly after ... probably just to prove you wrong.
"I like this game. Go on, tell me I'll never win the lottery either."
Well, love probably had something to do with it, but we're going with the retribution angle because we have this affliction where we hold an imagined grudge for a really long time. Honestly, we probably need one of Nick's talks soon.
#4. Jacob Barnett Knew More At Age 13 Than You Will In Your Entire Life
Jacob Barnett is a child prodigy from Indiana who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. It's a condition currently diagnosed in one out of every 68 children born in the U.S. It's also highly misunderstood and frequently misidentified as a mental health disorder when it's actually a bio-neurological developmental disability. All that to say ... Jacob Barnett can kick your ass at physics and has been able to do so since a young age, having completed all high school math by the age of 10, working on his Master's in quantum physics by the age of 13, and being accepted into Canada's Perimeter Institute For Theoretical Physics by the age of 15. In other words, everything it would take us to the age of 90 to achieve, but we'll be dead by then anyway.
Kelly Wilkinson / The Star
We recognize the number 2, and we can see what looks like a smiley face ...
Other than that, we're lost.
Here he is giving a TED Talk at the age of 14, telling the audience they should "stop learning and start thinking." He cites Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein as those who decided to look at things from their own unique perspective and came up with the genius theories we didn't learn in high school because our heads were constantly preoccupied with "I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred. If you think that's a dated reference, please tell us, because the doctors keep us in a room where they say the Earth doesn't rotate anymore and it's 1991 forever.
Jacob is amazing because it's common to think that those diagnosed with autism can't learn or even be intelligent. But this kid started sneaking into the back of college lectures at IUPUI at the age of 8, supposedly remaining inconspicuous because everyone is obsessed with Doogie Howser, M.D. and knows kids like that are common. We think Neil Patrick Harris is great but will never do anything else, and he's the straightest guy we've ever known. Again, please let us know if it ever got past 1991.
It should be noted that Jacob isn't a typical kid with autism, and that people who are diagnosed have a wide range of intelligence. But this is an article about people who found superpowers against all odds, and he's one of them.
#3. Nick Newell Can Kick Your Ass With Only One Arm
Nick "Notorious" Newell is an MMA fighter from Springfield, Massachusetts, born with congenital amputation of his left arm. Most people at the age of 3 would look at the lack of a left hand and say to themselves, "Welp, there goes my fighting career," but not Newell, who decided that badassery was still in the cards.
"People want to be asskickers, not asspunchers."
Nick got into high school and college wrestling and won over 300 matches despite this disability. That's freaking insane. At some point, many of the guys he beat were probably wondering how he was typing in the Konami cheat code and applying it to wrestling. This is all after winning only two of his first 24 matches his freshman year. He was so small he had to wrestle a girl in his first match, which he lost. He nearly gave up, but his mom told him not to, and he kept trying. By his senior year, he won a record 53 matches.
Despite countless managers interfering with steel chairs.
However, when he entered MMA Nick had a difficult time finding people who would fight him. It's a classic case where opponents felt beating a guy like that would be equivalent to going to your mother's nursing home and beating up Freddy "Notorious Arthritis" Creakyknees. (We think that's how his birth certificate lists it, but we'll have to rely on memory.) Everyone expects victory in that scenario, so there's no glory in winning. On the other hand, losing such a fight would lead to merciless teasing. It's the classic lose-lose scenario, kind of like when you're playing football and your helmet displays a Tennessee Titans logo.
But find opponents he has, and Newell's won 12 of 13 MMA matches in the lightweight division. Here he is fighting Keon Caldwell, winning with a first-round submission. After watching this, you'll wonder how he does it, kind of like how former one-handed Major League pitcher Jim Abbott used to pitch and manage to put on a glove, all in one motion. As a Yankee, he pitched no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians in 1993. Unsurprisingly, Newell cites Abbott as an inspiration.
Though Abbott never got to sucker-punch the most badass action hero of his time.
Nick is currently a part of the World Series Of Fighting, and he recently fought for a championship belt against Justin Gaethje. Newell lost by TKO, suffering his first defeat in professional MMA, but considering the fact that, oh, he has to fight with one arm ... just getting there is more impressive than anything we've ever done.