For over a decade, I produced human-interest features for ESPN, but one particular story came into my life and never left. After seeing a newspaper image of two young wrestlers from one of Cleveland’s tougher public high schools, I followed a hunch and flew back to my hometown to meet the boys that very day. What I found caused my spirit both to sink and to soar.
Leroy Sutton, who lost his legs in a childhood train accident, could often be found riding on the back of Dartanyon Crockett, who was legally blind and had no permanent place to call home. Initially drawn together by their handicaps, the boys soon developed a brother-like bond. When one wrestled, the other sat on the edge of the mat, and their cheerful friendship was a source of inspiration throughout the halls of their high school.
As I filmed a feature about this remarkable friendship, I grew to understand the suffering Leroy and Dartanyon had endured, and I fought for their trust and their confidence. We formed a surprising and meaningful connection—and once the television story ended, I realized she couldn’t just walk away.
Though Leroy and Dartanyon’s futures were limited by abject poverty, I resolved to give them the chance I knew they deserved. I worked tirelessly to see them through school and athletic pursuits, broken hearts, phantom limbs, and the bewildering obstacles that, at every turn, tested our individual strengths even while strengthening the bonds between us.
More than a story of two underdogs overcoming innumerable hardships, Carry On is a touching tale of our unlikely family forged through barriers of race, class, and disability. It is a powerful memoir about grit, love, hope, and faith—and the courage to carry on, even in the most extraordinary circumstances.