A Fighting Chance
  • KYLE
  • DVD

Kyle's work with the wounded veterans of our armed forces has always been one of Kyle's main priorities and initiatives. Born on March 24th 1986, at Walter Reed Army Hospital, Kyle grew up idolizing the men and women serving in the military and defending our freedom. His father, Scott Maynard, military police at Fort Myer, had always encouraged Kyle in all of his endeavors- even Kyle's boyhood dreams of becoming an Air Borne Ranger. While Kyle's physical condition prevented him from enlisting after high school, Kyle became determined to help in any way he could. However, it wasn't until a particularly powerful moment in an airport that Kyle discovered the best way for him to give back to the men and women of the US Military.

We are happy to announce that proceeds of A Fighting Chance are going to directly help the wounded warriors returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. We want to thank our partners at the USO and ESPN for all of your help, and of course, we want to thank the many men and women who have served and sacrificed to defend our freedom.

In Kyle's own words:

When my book was released in October of 2005 my life changed pretty dramatically. I went from being a 19-year old full-time student at the University of Georgia, to a 19-year old full- time business traveler overnight. I found myself in the routine of jumping from city to city, sometimes more than once in the same day. For the first three months of 2006 I came home to Atlanta once, and that was to do some laundry so I could head back out! I was grateful for every opportunity I had been given, but I was not mentally prepared for how much my life was changing!

Most of the time I traveled alone and the empty hotel rooms got lonely real quick. If you've ever met anyone claiming they've never felt sorry for themselves at one point or another, odds are they are lying or not human! And I am no different! It's not the easiest job in the world to leave a positive impact on people when you are struggling to find motivation yourself.

When I complain, it usually has nothing to do with the things you might think I would gripe about; as it rarely ever relates to anything pertaining to my disability. And I'm not immune from making excuses either - my parents just taught me early on that excuses would never help serve me in any way! Even though I fully believe that, I still thought about quitting and going back to my old life as a full-time student. I missed home. I missed hanging out with my friends. I missed the relatively stress-free life I had left behind.

Then out of nowhere, in the middle of the airport, on a day I was feeling particularly sorry for myself, I met two men who changed everything. I believe God puts people in our lives at the precise moment we need them. And even though I had no idea who they were, I was on the ropes without them.

I saw the two men, who were sitting in the same terminal, looking at me and commenting back and forth to one another. Right after my book was released it wasn't uncommon for people to be hesitant about coming up to meet me, so I got in the habit of introducing myself (also a great way to make friends on the road!). We had about an hour before the flight was scheduled to take off, so I decided to head over towards them, and almost immediately I noticed something different about the men - both of them were noticeably burnt.

After I introduced myself they told me their story. They had been Military Police in the Army who were ambushed in a convoy in Iraq when their Humvee was hit with rocket propelled grenades and set on fire. The corporal driving the truck had his hands and forearms severely burnt. The lieutenant next to him jumped on his friend to try and extinguish the flames, and in doing so, badly burnt the side of his body. The soldiers were evacuated and in less than 48 hours after the incident, they found themselves in adjacent hospital beds at Brooks Army Medical Center, or BAMC, at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio.

They told me they refused to speak to anyone, even their families, for the first week they were in the hospital. When the doctors told them they were facing a year or more of intensive rehabilitation before they could go home, they were close to giving up on life. Then they happened to watch a replay of my 2004 HBO Real Sports special. They told me that was the moment where they chose to fight to get their lives back. I couldn't believe what I heard. I was so humbled and honored that my story made such an impact on two men who experienced more adversity in their lives than I've ever fathomed.

I met their families once we landed in North Carolina and said goodbye to the two heroes before heading to my hotel for a speaking event the next morning. Later that night something powerful hit me - it was by complete random chance that I met the soldiers in the first place and if I had given up on the speaking tour, I would've never had that opportunity. Not only that, but the excuses I was making in my life could also keep me from reaching many others who may be helped by my message. Because of them, I understood the importance of what God has called me to do, and I will never take it for granted again.

For the past few years I have made it my personal mission to reach out to Wounded Warriors whenever I can. Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, has helped me a tremendous amount in working to apply the principles of functional fitness to wounded veterans across the country. Also, the USO and their President, Sloan D. Gibson, have provided me with invaluable opportunities to spend time with these heroes of mine.

Unfortunately, as a relatively naive kid, I lost touch with the two men who helped opened my eyes. I hope to meet them again someday, as they have changed my life forever.