Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Deanofsports Jayson Dean Has Competed in Nearly Every Sport ... with Only One Leg

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Deanofsports Jayson Dean Has Competed in Nearly Every Sport ... with Only One Leg

Article excerpt

As the hours slowly passed in a Baltimore, Md., hospital room, Jeffrey and DeNita Dean read the Bible and prayed for their little boy and only child, Jayson.

From the moment they discovered he had been born with the rare Proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD) - Jayson did not have a fibia or a tibia in his right leg - they had been searching for answers. Most of his first two years had been spent in doctors' offices, but now they had made a decision.

They'd been given three options: Amputate the leg; lengthen it over the course of his entire adolescence through 15-17 surgeries; or have rotationplasty, which would flip his lower leg and foot 180 degrees in an attempt to improve Jayson's mobility with a prosthetic limb in the future. With rotationplasty, he would always have to wear a prosthesis, but he could have a chance at a real childhood, which was what mattered most to the Deans.

It was time to move forward.

"That was the longest day of my life," DeNita Dean says.

That day, while she waited for the outcome of Jayson's surgery, DeNita wouldn't have believed how trivial her day-to-day motherly worries would seem in comparison today, 16 years later, as Jayson finishes his final semester at Central Catholic High School and marches on - with only a slight, barely detectable limp in his gait - toward college.

Oh sure, as with any teenager, there's still plenty to worry about: Making sure Jayson keeps his grades up so he can stay eligible for varsity track and field; hoping that he'll accomplish his dreams of making it to the state competition in the javelin throw before competing next season for Point Park University's fledgling NAIA track program; and wishing that all those girls would leave her son alone so he can focus.

Certainly, in that realm, Jayson has put all of his mother's fears to rest.

"That was one of the biggest concerns for me," DeNita says, laughing. "Well, maybe girls may not like him. But no, that's not an issue . at all."

What's not to like? Jayson has a disarming smile and has enjoyed the high school growth spurt that one would have expected from a son of Jeffrey, who played college basketball at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Jayson, who had no choice but to overwork his upper body growing up, says he can bench press a max of 225 pounds (he weighs 130) and do 150 push-ups and 55 pull-ups in a row. Then of course there's the javelin, his chosen athletic event, which he says he can throw nearly 170 feet in the air on a good day.

"I love throwing the javelin because it's just one smooth motion," Jayson says, "and you just know if you have a good throw or a bad throw by how your motion is. I kind of have an advantage over other people trying to muscle it, because it's all technique."

Jayson can't build up as much power as his competitors do with their run-up to the javelin throw, yet, instead of talking about that disadvantage, he would rather discuss what he has over them. …

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