Zion was born on September 29, 1997 in Columbus, OH.
Due to his condition (Caudal Regression Syndrome…born with no legs), and his birth mother’s inability to care for him, Zion was immediately thrust into the foster care system.
Thus, his journey to find a permanent home and a someone to call “mom” began.
Over the course of the next 16 years Zion moved numerous times and found himself in a variety of circumstances and environments…many of them unfavorable.
There were situations when Zion was mentally abused, physically bullied, and underfed…but he remained optimistic (faith in God).
Being physically different from others didn’t help, but Zion used a positive mindset, gracious demeanor, and diligent study habits to make friends and excel academically.
Zion was introduced to the sport of wrestling while in elementary school, but initially didn’t fare very well…in fact, he didn’t win a match for several years. Upon entering Massillon High School, Zion met Coach Gil Donahue who recognized his passion for the sport and relentless work ethic. A wonderful friendship and bond was forged.
Over the next 3 years Zion improved his wrestling technique and hit the weight room like a man possessed. An amazing transformation followed!
Part of this miraculous course of events included Zion being adopted by a woman who had been praying for a son for years! In dramatic fashion, the process was completed only within days before Zion was officially scheduled to be legally aged-out (no chance of adoption).
In his senior year, Zion finished the season 33-15 and was one match from qualifying for the D-I Ohio High School State Wrestling Championships. In an incredible display of heart and determination, Zion wrestled his opponent (a 20 pd. weight differential) beyond the grueling 6 minutes of regulation and 2 overtimes…only to fall 1-0 in sudden death.
The fans in the packed gymnasium rose to their feet and zealously applauded Zion’s courageous effort. A few months later Zion went on to capture his second high school track wheel chair racing title at the state championships.
Zion’s herculean efforts hadn’t gone unnoticed as a Hollywood producer documented his journey during senior year. The film “Zion” garnered critical acclaim at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival (2018) and global media exposure (it’s currently available on Netflix).
Zion was recruited by several colleges to wrestle and chose to attend Kent State (Tuscarawas)…where he spent the following 2 years steadily improving his skills and finding success at the varsity level.
With his confidence and national ranking on the rise, Zion decided to embark on his toughest mission to date…becoming the first American Athlete to compete in both the Olympic (wrestling) and Paralympic (wheelchair racing) Games in Tokyo (2020).
Understanding the magnitude of this difficult challenge, Zion has surrounded himself with a very dedicated and highly supportive team…including budding friendships with Olympic/World Champion Jordan Burroughs and undefeated (133-0) 4x NCAA titlist Joey Davis.
Due to his tremendous upper body strength and athleticism, Zion is also pursuing interests in power lifting (bench press), wheelchair bodybuilding, and the circus arts.
In addition to his brutal training/practice regimen, Zion stays busy as a motivational speaker.
The moral of Zion’s inspirational story is that things don’t always go smoothly in life…but in order to succeed, you must adapt to your individual circumstances.
Priding himself in hard work, Zion offers that there are no excuses…or shortcuts!
It’s all about faith, passion, and perseverance.
Zion urges others to “Be Greater Than” > …the obstacles you face.
YOU, and only YOU are in control of your destiny!