Tethered by the weight of the braces binding his legs, Rickey Hill grew up hitting rocks with sticks, dreaming of one day hearing the crack of his bat against a fly ball headed for the outfield.
That dream, he was told, couldn’t be a reality. The odds against him—and the near-countless exploratory surgeries he’d undergone—were just stacked too high.
“I had no disc in my spine,” Hill told CBN’s Faithwire. “People didn’t realize, I was born with no disc. My grandmother and my great-grandmother were in wheelchairs; I’d never seen them any different, and I was headed in the same direction.”
The son of a Baptist preacher, Hill grew up trusting God’s plan and his prognosis were at odds.
Hill, whose life story is the subject of the new movie, “The Hill,” starring Dennis Quaid and Colin Ford, was a tenacious kid undeterred by the physical limitations that grounded him. So, at just 8 years old, he walked out of the clunky supports that straightened his legs, which were twisted around one another at birth, and picked up a baseball bat.
“One day, at 8 years old, I busted those braces off,” he said. “I never put ’em back on.”
The boldness and reckless courage it took Hill to walk away from the physical limitations dictating his future “came straight from God Himself,” the unlikely athlete reflected.
And his tenacious spirit certainly paid off.
Between his impressive batting skills and gritty determination, Hill scored a tryout at 19 years old with the Montreal Expos, a Major League Baseball franchise. Although he was signed and ultimately released from the team, Hill went on to play four seasons in minor league baseball.
The man who discovered Hill, baseball scout Red Murff, described the young player as “the best pure hitting prospect he’s ever seen,” according to “USA Today.” Hill only bowed out of the sport when his health prevented him from continuing.
That didn’t matter, though: Hill had already achieved his dream—and his father’s, albeit unconventionally.
“I knew one day that I would make it, somehow, someway,” Hill said. “It didn’t matter the pain. I weathered the pain, because it was very painful, but I weathered that storm through the pain and I just had it built in. My father had it; I had it.”
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