November 30, 2012

Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 3. This year we asked a select group of people from outside the staff to offer nominations for that honor. Tyler Perry's selection was Oscar Pistorius, and he explains why below as told to Bryan Armen Graham. Please vote for your Inspiring Performer, Photo of the Year and Moment of the Year at our Facebook page.

There are only a few people I've wanted to meet in this life and Oscar Pistorious was one of them. The Blade Runner.

I wasn't aware of his story before I saw him take the track for the first time at the Olympics. I'd heard about this guy running against able-bodied runners, but I didn't really know what that meant until I looked up and saw him in action. To come from where he came from and come through what he came through and make it all the way to the Olympics and beyond, it's inspiring to no end -- and it makes him my choice for Sportsman of the Year.

I did get a chance to meet Oscar. We both were doing a Jay Leno appearance at the same time. And just his life, his story, his energy, his spirit, his soul: it's beyond.

In his mind, he has legs. He is a world-class athlete who ignored everything a disability is supposed to be. I love that his mother would tell his brother, "Put on your shoes, and Oscar, you put on your legs, and let's go out, I don't want to hear another word about it." That's the whole attitude he has in life. It's not only him being the kind of person he is, but what he has accomplished with what most of us would call a handicap. It's just ... beyond.

Oscar speaks to the possibility in every life, no matter what you're going through -- be it in sports or anything else. We all, no matter what disadvantage someone thinks we have, can achieve. He is a testament to that -- not only by becoming a runner, but becoming a world-class athlete -- the first double leg amputee to participate in the Olympics. It's just mind-blowing to me.

In my career I was able to overcome a lot of where I came from; that was with all of my limbs. It's very difficult for me to find the words when I think about Oscar, his life and all that he's done, but he is an inspiration to me every day.

I saw this great picture of Oscar running with a little girl, who was also a double amputee: I saw the joy in her face and how she was so inspired. I've also witnessed his influence first-hand, with a friend who co-wrote my last film Alex Cross. His name is Marc and he's in a wheelchair. Getting an opportunity to introduce Oscar to him, to see his entire life light up at the presence of Oscar, that whole moment for me was surreal. It was what we all should be on this planet: we all should bring that light to each other.

Waking up every day and looking down and seeing that he didn't have legs didn't stop him. Nothing stopped him. It takes a lot to become an Olympic athlete, but to become an Olympic athlete in spite of the odds against him: Every day you get up and you put on your legs like most people put on their shoes and you go to the track and you train and you work out. It speaks to his decision to do it, but it also speaks to the power of overcoming it all.

Oscar's life would make a fascinating movie, one I would totally watch from beginning to end. But his story's still being written because he's still running. He's still the Blade Runner.

Tyler Perry is an actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, producer, author and songwriter. Last year, Forbes named him the highest paid man in entertainment, with $130 million in earnings between May 2010 and 2011.

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