VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Every student-athlete dreams of winning a state championship. Not every student-athlete has to overcome what Adonis Lattimore has dealt with his entire life, but you won't hear the Landstown senior complaining. He capped off his high school career on a high note this past weekend, part of a quest that his father, Jerrold, describes as "a story of a lifetime."
It's a story that begins with a boy born without a right leg, missing most of his left leg and with only one finger on his right hand. When he was born, Adonis's parents knew he would become something special.
"We knew from day one that he was going to have an impact," Jerrold said. "Didn't know what it was going to be, how it was going to be, how it was going to play out, but we knew he was going to have an impact."
They were right. Since gravitating towards wrestling at 7-years old and falling in love with the sport, Adonis has proved all of the doubters wrong, but never more so than this past Saturday, when he won the Class 6 state championship at the 106 lbs. weight class. Video of his achievement quickly went viral and it's made for a whirlwind of a 48 hours.
"It's been crazy, just coming off of winning a state title and just coming to realize that I really won it," said the Eagles' senior grappler. "I really accomplished what I set out to do."
Now Adonis has that gold medal to display, along with a framed copy of the bracket, a map of his conquest. It's a state crown that every wrestler shoots for, but rarely do those champions have to carry a weight like the Landstown senior has to the top of the mountain. The moment the final period ended, he, his team and his family celebrated.
"I was really excited," Adonis smiled. "I had finally done it. I couldn't control myself and just screamed out."
"The challenges, the obstacles, the naysayers, the doubters, your own self-doubt, the questions," listed off Jerrold, fighting back tears. "To see it all come together in that one moment is priceless."
Many are quick to point out that Adonis has not been alone throughout his journey. His father and Landstown head coach James Sanderlin both credit a number of people for helping along the way, noting the support of the entire Hampton Roads wrestling community. Now national outlets are taking notice.
"To see the national and social media level of support and commentary that's coming from that is unreal," the elder Lattimore noted.
"It's really exciting to see how much support I had behind me, really seeing how many people I inspire," added Adonis.
Inspiring is certainly one way to describe the long road that the Virginia Beach wrestler has taken to the pinnacle of wrestling in the commonwealth. He capped off his high school career in triumph, something that can be a lesson to those who doubt themselves that there isn't anything they can't do.
"It's been a great journey," Sanderlin said. "It's a road that he took and I got to be a part of it. He did all the work, I just got to ride with him and enjoy it."
"It has been an emotional roller-coaster, not just this past weekend, but just from start to finish," said Jerrold. "This chapter closing, it's been a roller-coaster."
"You can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it, really strive towards it and just take it one step at a time," the newly-crowned state champion concluded.
Even though his high school career has come to a close, we still haven't seen the last of Adonis on the mat. He plans to continue his career at the college level.