HAMPTON - Devon Berry is one of the guys for Hampton High School’s football team. He’s got that senior swagger, that confidence in the hallways and on the practice field, and is “enjoying every last bit” of his final year before college.
He loves football and it would be hard to find anybody having a better time than he is, during a practice, during games or anytime you come across him. This is all while dealing with challenges most people have never faced.
"I'm just trying trying to make an example that, just because they're saying no doesn't mean it can't be done,” said Berry.
Berry has cerebral palsy, a condition which affects him physically, though it doesn’t limit what he does or what he knows he can do. Crediting a strong Christian faith and equally strong mother, he plays defensive line for Hampton’s football team, wrestles and maintains good grades.
Berry uses a walker to get to the practice field and uses his arms to help propel him on the field. He has a very strong upper body and proudly notes the tackles he's been able to make when he gets into the game.
Even though he gets some attention his teammates don’t, ESPN has sent video crews to spend time with him sporadically over the past few years, he doesn’t want special treatment.
"I tell [my teammates], if they're going easy on me, that's making me feel like I'm not part of the team, you know?” said Berry.
Berry’s personality and effervescent attitude make him popular among teammates. Even his coaches are impressed that, facing his own challenges, seemingly nothing gets him down.
"You have a young man who, even though he has a disability, doesn't act like it,” said Hampton head coach Chad Ashley. “There's nothing he doesn't think he can do. That's infectious."
Berry says he plans to attend St. Cloud State University and hopes to one day be a minister or sports broadcaster; ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is a favorite.
"I mean, what's to be sad for?” said Berry. “God has blessed me, I'm not dead. I'm basically living the dream. I've got good grades. Even though we don't win every game, I'm enjoying the moment because I'm getting an opportunity most people with my disability, even walking, don't get to do."