Written By :Shawn P
Random Thoughts of A Sinner: Berry Strong
Devon Berry has been fighting through adversity his entire life. Many have always tried to define Devon by what he couldn’t do.
Even before he entered this world his existence was marred with doubt. His mother
Tonja Grier Amis was told by doctors to abort him and his twin sister due to preconceived complications. However, that was never an option for her. She told the doctors that she was a woman of faith and would not have an abortion.
Devon and his twin sister Destinee were born two and a half months premature. Weighing just over 2 pounds, him and his sister spent two months in the hospital. They had low heart rates and were placed in incubators. They also had problems breathing on their own so they were fed fat from their mothers back and thigh through a tube. His sister would begin to develop normally. However, Devon had suffered a stroke at birth and was in and out of the hospital due to seizures and bouts of pneumonia. He was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. As a result his motor skills were impaired. His legs didn’t function properly and he could not write legibly. Devon would constantly get picked on because of his differences. He became very insecure and would cry himself to sleep at night. Devon said he read the scriptures, Philippians 4:13– I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and Luke 1:37– For with God nothing shall be impossible, keeping the faith will make you face your fears.
Those scriptures inspired him not to be deterred by the negativity of others. Devon went through nine different surgeries over the years. Devon is now able to walk on his own and for prolonged periods with the assistance of an walker. Also, Devon was placed in special education classes early on. Devon now attends regular classes and is an honor student. He has always been counted out, only to defy the the odds every time. People have consistently tried to hold him down because of his hurdles, but he has constantly jumped over them. Devon had another dream, a dream that seemed impossible to bring into fruition. He had a dream to play football. His mother initially resisted this idea, until one day he proposed to her an ultimatum. His mother who had always emphasized to him that he wasn’t disabled, was now posed with a question. Devon looked at her and said, “You treat me like I have a disability. You can’t have it both ways. Either I’m disabled or regular?”
She then decided to let him play. She set out on a mission that was met with much resistance as well. She initially was turned down by many teams because of the fear of Devon enduring further harm. She finally got into contact with Kenny Sims, a recreational director who gave Devon the green light to play. Devon was taunted and ridiculed by fellow players and coaches, but once again persevered. He has been playing ever since. He recently garnered national attention as ESPN’s E:60 documented his impact on his high school football team.
Devon describes his play as “smash mouth.” That term has also been attributed to the Kansas City Chiefs pro bowl safety Eric Berry. Besides sharing the same last name, Devon and Eric both have faced great obstacles. After being plagued with injuries during the 2014 season, Eric would be diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.(cancer)
Eric has since defeated the cancer and came back to reclaim his pro bowl form. During the process a campaign known as “Berry Strong” was initiated to help benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Doubt is like cancer, it can consume you and lead to death. Devon and Eric chose life.
Devon recently received a scholarship to St. Cloud State University in Minnesota for wrestling and was also recommended to be in the honors program. He amassed an astonishing 150-39 record during his career at Hampton High School. He is the first student athlete in the school’s history to receive a scholarship. His story is the epitome of moving.
If you have a dream, even if it seems premature when conceived, nourish it, grow it. You will meet resistance along the way, but keep the faith and let nothing deter you.
Devon is a hero of mines, and after seeing his E:60 special I’ve had the honor of communicating with him. In closing he would like to share these words of encouragement with anyone reading.
“I always say having confidence is the start to having success. In order to be something you have to do something. The battle is not yours, it is the Lord’s. I always asked myself, “How bad do you want it?” I would stay up till 3 o’clock in the morning putting in work, doing push ups, sit ups and dips. Even when I felt unwanted and doubted, I kept grinding and kept my faith strong in Christ Jesus. Don’t let some ones diagnoses determine your future. Don’t be afraid to fail. God will take you places that your money can’t buy. Don’t stop pushing, because every time you do, time passes that you can’t get back.
HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? Thanks for your time!!”