HOUSTON, Miss. (WTVA)--In 2009, life changed dramatically for then 17-year-old Shaquille Vance.
He was a high school junior football player playing a pick-up game when an injury changed everything.
"I ran the ball for the last time. I remember I got hit and my leg twisted in this like crazy way," said Vance.
Doctors at first thought it was just a knee injury, but after a nine hour surgery they realized it was much more serious.
"They said everything in my right leg was destroyed and they would have to amputate my leg right then and there. Having the mom I have, she wouldn't let them do it," he said.
But, a few days later she had a change of heart.
"April 16th is when I had my first amputation. They went six inches below the knee. I could have more flexibility if I had my knee. Two weeks later they went above the knee. Now I'm an above the knee amputee," Vance explained.
Vance said he was depressed for a moment, but he received a lot of support.
"I had so many people backing me up, and they were saying a prosthetic is not too bad. They make prosthesis for different things. You'll still be able to play football. So, I still had my hopes up. You know when I get out of here, I'll have to train harder and practice harder," Vance stated.
But, Vance says a doctor erased those hopes of a new life.
"I had a doctor tell me you'll never be able to play sports again. I was like it broke my spirits, but at the same time it motivated me. I don't like people coming up to me saying Shaquille you can't do this you can't do that. There's always a way to do something," he said.
Shaquille tried playing football again, but it wasn't the same.
So, he focused on the 100-meter, 200-meter and the shot put.
The head coach for the U.S. paralympic team saw a lot of potential in Shaquille and asked him to try-out for the team.
And the rest is history.
Shaquille won a silver medal in the London Paralympic Games this year for the 200-meter race and he has the world record at 25.5 seconds.
"I knew he was going to get a medal. I thought he would get gold. My cousin is a competitor," said his cousin Antonio Parker.
"He's fast. In order to keep from failing. He wins his race. He can beat me," said friend Chanston Foard.
"He was a great student. Well mannered and well behaved. He was willing to do anything I asked him to do," said former teacher Tracy Sullivan. "It's amazing. We kept up with his progress on Facebook. Words can't describe how we feel. We are so proud of him. He's done a great job."
Shaquille has some advice for those in similar situations.
"Your life isn't over. There's always things you can do. I had no idea about the Paralympics. Once you get into it, it's a whole different world. It's a whole different story. You are yourself again. It brings you back to life. It brings you back to earth. Keep your head up and never give up on your dreams," he said.
Shaquille will compete in the World Championships in France in July 2013.