Tag Archives: USTA

USMC veteran Sergeant Le bounces back and inspires everyone around him

13 Nov

I’m a few days late from Veteran’s day, but it’s better late than never. So today I’m recognizing a veteran who has completely changed my perspective on our US military and given me a deeper appreciation. USMC veteran Le bounces back and inspires everyone around him – Check out the full article in USTA.

There are a lot of inspiring stories about people who’ve overcome many obstacles and grown so much through the process, but U.S. Marine Corps veteran Sergeant Le is my favorite. Aside from the fact that this is one of the most playful and encouraging people I know, I am proud to call this guy my “little brother”…not by blood, but definitely by heart, sweat and tears.

USTA  Balboa Tennis Club

Sergeant Lam Le (left) and Balboa Tennis Club director Geoff Griffin. Image from the USTA article. © San Diego District Tennis Association

To begin, I have known this guy since middle school and watched him grow alongside my younger sibling. He then ran cross country with me (and throughout high school) in addition to swimming. No matter his grade level or position on the team, he was always an encouragement not just to the slower runners, but to everyone. After graduation, he immediately enlisted in the USMC and excelled quickly scoring not just high marks, but placing in the top percentage in many activities and exams.

While on active duty in 2010, he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, also known as bone cancer, which is defined by an aggressive, malignant growth within the inner bone. For someone as fit and healthy as Le and from a family with no previous history, this was truly a shock. Even harder to swallow, the best option for Le was amputation of his left leg which would prevent him from his previous activities including running. As a runner and swimmer, I personally could not imagine having to be in his shoes.

The cancer was tough, but not tougher than his unrelenting spirit, supportive family and determination to be more than his circumstance. The chemo was exhausting, but Le kept such a positive and playful attitude, the doctors and nurses couldn’t help but welcome him back for every visit. Amidst the chemo, the cancer had spread to his lungs and surgery to remove the cells followed. Despite the physical exhaustion and pain, Le maintained composure, patience and was back out on the courts and in physical therapy whenever possible. (Which served as a great reminder for me of the privilege it is to be healthy and to work out.)

Bubble Tea break

As a “big sister,” I’ve had the privilege of watching him from across the country grow not just as a determined athlete, but as a young man, as a student of new sports, as a “new runner” with his running leg, as a racquetball amateur, as a San Diego local and so much more.

Racquetball in action

During his last visit, Le taught myself and a friend the basics of racquetball. While neither of us were exactly naturals at the sport, Le was great at guiding the ball to our spot so we could practice our swings. Similarly, he was also great at making us run all over the court when we were playing matches. For the basics of the sport, check out this “how to” from Racquetball Challenge.

Work hard, play hard

New leg and pumping iron

What working out beside this guy looks like