WACO, Texas — Most Texas kids dream of playing football. That's certainly true for 12-year-old River Valley Middle school student Jaylen Sheppard.
He is one of the top leaders on his middle school team.
“He's one of those kids that when I asked him to hit somebody he's going to go downhill and just smash them in the mouth," coach Josh Wrzesinski said.
Sheppard decided this past year that he wanted to play football, a decision he had to run through his parents.
“I told my mom first, I kept on bugging her about it," he said.
“At first I was like mmm, momma's a little scared about that," Yvonne Hobbs, Jaylen's mother said.
She was hesitant because Jaylen has a prosthetic leg. He was born with a clubfoot, which was amputated when he was nine-months-old.
“He got his first prosthetic at 12 months at Scottish Rite Children's Hospital In Dallas and from then on he's just been on the go," Hobbs said.
Despite the setback, his parents, like his opponents, never took it easy on Jaylen.
“We were kind of hard on him at first just so he wouldn't be so dependent on Mom and Dad," Hobbs said.
That independence led him to do the seemingly impossible. He hopes to motivate others and lead through his actions.
“It'll motivate me to just practice and get my reps in and just play," Jaylen said. I think of myself as a leader."
This is what his parents are most proud of.
"He's an inspiration to everyone, not just the ones with that but the ones you can, he gives a push to everyone, "Jaylen's father, Carlos Sheppard said.
As he hits the football offseason, he will switch to track and then get ready for another football season. His goal is to play at Midway High School for head coach Shane Anderson and then eventually go to LSU.