Before Ricardo Benitez was even born, people doubted him.
Benitez was diagnosed with a condition called, Femur Hypoplasia Bilateral, meaning he was born without a femur in both legs, along with a hole in his heart.
Doctors told Benitez's parents all the struggles, challenges and impossible tasks he would face in life, but that didn't faze them. They knew their son was a blessing.
According to this MaxPreps feature story on Benitez, crawled until the age of 2 and learned to run when he was 5—both times overcoming milestones doctors never thought he would.
However, Benitez always had one thing he loved and one goal he had for himself: to play football.
Finally, in seventh grade, Benitez was given that chance when he received medical clearance to step onto the gridiron.
Benitez’s mom said it hasn’t always been easy to convince coaches to give him chance.
While Benitez has faced more challenges and doubts than most people in life, he doesn't want to be considered a "sob story.”
Rather, he serves as an inspiration, even to his local NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys.
Head Coach Jason Garrett invited Benitez to last summer’s OTAs, where he invited Benitez to speak to the team. Benitez told the Cowboys players, "There’s no excuse why we can't be a great team this year. Look at me. If I can do it, y'all can do it. No excuses."
The now 4-foot-2 and 105-pound senior is entering his first and last year of varsity football. He wants to be treated like any other player on the team.
"I don't play football for publicity," Benitez said. "I would be mad as heck if teams let me score touchdowns (out of pity). I'm just a regular 17-year-old kid playing football because I love it."
Plano West head coach Scott Smith raved about Benitez as both a player and a person.
"He's the type of kid every coach wants on their team," Smith told MaxPreps. "There's never an excuse out of his mouth and he fires you up.”
No excuses is right. Benitez missed last season for a surgery which put a metal plate in his right leg to allow the tendons to connect properly.
Since the surgery, Benitez has been determined in his recovery, getting up at 5:30 a.m. to lift and condition to prepare for the upcoming season.
Benitez can bench press more than twice his body weight, 225 pounds. His determination not only impresses his coaches but also his teammates
“Every kid on the team wants to hang out with him outside of football because of his upbeat personality,” Smith said. “He's as strong as any kid in our program for his size. If there's something he can't do in the weight room, he'll do something that correlates. He doesn't take any reps or plays off. He's the soul of the team.”
Whether or not Benitez will continue to play football after high school is still uncertain, but he would at least like the chance to play in college. If he is unable to continue to play, he wants to continue to make an impact on the gridiron by becoming a high school football coach.