The inspirational story of Matt Tapia

13:17 | Sports Illustrated
Matt the Film

When Matt Tapia was born severely premature, his family was told that he had a five percent chance of survival. Doctors also said that if by some chance he did make it he would live in a vegetative state. But Matt not only survived, he began to thrive. As time passed by, it became clear to Matt and his family that his life would not be determined by doctors' predictions. Matt's stubborn nature, characterized by his refusal to be anything but normal, has enabled him to overcome throughout his life.

Now a senior at Santa Monica (Calif.) High, Matt recently came home with unbelievable news: he could play football. An astounding offer from his high school coach would soon become the turning point in Matt's life.

Matt's nights spent alone in front of the TV came to an end, as he now became, much to his satisfaction, "one of the guys." From going to every practice and film session, to even getting on field for a playoff game, Matt was part of the team.

More important than athletics, Matt learned that in order to fit in, all he had to do was be himself. Inspiring coaches and players alike, Matt quickly became the glue that held the team together, generating support from the entire school and boosting team morale.

Produced by Diesel Films. For more information about Matt Tapia's story, go here.

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