Lisa Fenn was a six-time Emmy Award-winning feature producer during her time at ESPN. She interviewed everyone from Michael Jordan to Tom Brady. But the biggest interview of her life was with two high school students Dartanyon Crockett and Leroy Sutton. They were both disabled and impoverished. Crockett and Sutton would go on to graduate high school where only forty percent of students graduated that year. Risen interviewed Fenn, Crockett and Sutton in 2016 and talked with them about how they got their start in wresting and how it impacted their lives.
Sutton shares how he got his start in wrestling and how it impacted him.
“I actually got tricked into doing it by my friend Bob. He had a car and was like, ‘I’ll drive you to every practice.’ But as soon as I started, he quit. He was just trying to get me to take his spot. Yeah, and I didn’t want to end up like the people around me growing up. Plus I had always played sports before the accident. [Now] I trusted Dartanyon as a friend. I had Coach Torry to pray for us. He had a hard life himself. Prayer was all he had, and he devoted it to us. Coach Honsy [Justin Hons, Lincoln-West assistant coach] helped us with our school work, so we would stay eligible for the team. Even beyond the wrestling season he stayed and helped us with all of our work. I trusted that he would stick around through our success. And Lisa [Fenn] stuck around for four days in silence with me, just to prove that she wanted to be a friend. For the longest time I didn’t know I had a story until I watched it [on ESPN]. I felt like my past was a wasteland marked with pain and misfortune. I didn’t see what Lisa saw. I wanted to succeed, but I was insecure. Both my mind and my body had been hurt too many times, too many people had walked out on me. I learned that fractures of the mind and the heart hurt more than a hundred broken bones. Lisa took a huge chance on me and believed in me. She loved me unconditionally for really no reason at all, and she continues to talk to us almost every day…”
Crockett opens up on what kept him on the straight path and how he chose wrestling and education over other temptations.
“…I made my decisions based on what people did around me. I saw what their decisions led to. A lot of times it was kind of taking the easy way out to skip school or do drugs. I saw where their lives headed, and id dint want to go in that direction. I wanted something better than what I was given. I didn’t want to be a product of predestination just because of where I was born. I graduated high school with a B average, even though I was blind. My brother would always remind me about our mom. ‘She’s watching,’ he’d say. I didn’t see anything special in myself though until I realized I had a talent in sports. When I won my first wrestling match, I thought, I can not only win on the wrestling mat, but I can win at life. By my second year on the wrestling team, I became a captain, and this was amazing for me. I was the guy everybody on the team looked up to. I didn’t play sports as a child, but I started powerlifting in high school to avoid going home after school. That’s how I met Coach Torry. He came in the weight room and asked, ‘Kid, you know how to wrestle?’ ‘Uh, I don’t.’ I answered. ‘Don’t matter. Come with me,’ he said. I had never been approached like that growing up, so I said yes. Then sports changed my life. But I was [originally] held back by my own anger. When I was younger I was so focused on my own resentment and anger, the resentment that I held toward my father for being an addict. I was mad at the hand that I was dealt. I was mad that my mother was taken from me. I was mad at God for letting me suffer as long as I did. It wasn’t until [then] I realized I had to make a conscious decision to forgive everyone and everything that I felt had wronged me. Being able to forgive really freed me to see all the opportunities that were coming in for me, all the love and support that was coming my way. Like the love coming from Lisa and Leroy, it was because of them I felt like anything was possible. With Lisa and Leroy in my corner, I felt like I could conquer the world.”:
Don’t take the easy way out. Whether it is skipping school or telling a white lie, each of us is presented with opportunities that might be easier, but are not right. Pray and ask God to give you the strength to make the right decision. Ask a friend, teacher, coach or small group leader for wisdom. Often times, they can provide insight to a situation we might not be able to see.
Pray for others. Don’t just tell someone that you are going to pray for them, actually commit and pray for that person. You might want to designate a specific day for each person that you commit to praying for. Consider writing down your prayers in a journal so that you can see what God does and you can be reminded of his faithfulness.
Forgive. It is easy to let troubles and hurt build up into bitterness. Take time this week to allow God to search your heart and any unresolved pain that you need to forgive others for. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you forgive. If there are conversations that need to take place, ask God to give you the strength to initiate those.
To read our entire interview with Lisa Fenn, Dartanyon Crockett, and Leroy Sutton, click here.