Carter Arey was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency. Or, as he shrugs, a short right femur. At age 4, amputation became the best of the agonizing options.
His loving family and the help of prosthetics, though, made that acute loss less traumatic and a manageable nuisance. His mother, Beth, even figures he was bolder for it.
Whether it was baseball, basketball or soccer, Carter said, he could always keep up with the best.
I was only missing a foot, he said.
But when he was 17, Arey suffered a severe back injury jumping a four-wheel ATV. Prolonged bed-rest led to sitting out sports his senior year at Rock Bridge High, and that led to feeling adrift after graduation.
He meandered into junior college. He tried in vain to manufacture things to be passionate about.
I didnt really have anything going for me, he said.
One day he used a friends ID to finagle his way into the University of Missouris Student Recreation Center and play pickup basketball.
A stranger approached and told him, Youre playing the wrong sport.
The right one changed his life.