Chris Cross was looking for a new sport, so he picked up tennis.
“I actually came out to get recreation, get exercise,” Fort Smith native Chris Cross said. “Then it got to a point where I started thinking, 'hey, I`m doing pretty good at this.'”
So, he worked at it. He hired a coached and found a hitting partner.
“I went to my first tournament and it was like, 'hey, I`m going to enjoy this,'” Cross said.
Cross got so good that he eventually won two USTA National Championships.
He`s the definition of hard work. His perseverance is unmatched.
There`s a really good chance you`ll never meet anyone like him.
In 2005 Cross rode off a cliff during a freak bicycle accident.
“I was like ‘this can`t be happening’. It seemed like a nightmare right at the start and I was thinking this can`t be happening.'”
Paralyzed from the waist down, Cross was told he`d never walk again.
“I was so used to thinking, 'hey, I`m this big guy. I can do this I can do that.' To wake up and look around, I`m trying to roll over and I can`t.”
At first, he was angry, bitter, wondering why him. But then he got advice from a friend.
“He said, ‘you have two choices you can get bitter or you can get better. It is what it is. Life is going to go on. You`re still a father and you can still be a better person.’”
Cross chose to get better. He now uses tennis to inspire to all handicap people.
“Even young kids with spina bifida, amputees, double amputees because those guys play even girls play in the tournament`s too.”
He never claims it`s easy. Every day is a challenge; but go play a game with Chris Cross. He`ll show you the only real disabilities are the ones you create in your mind.
“Some people think, 'oh my child is in a chair and they may not be able to do anything.' This is exercise. Get their mind motivated and come out and have good fun.”
His new mission is to spread the word on handicap sports and he wants to start by bringing kids out to the Fort Smith Athletic Club.
“Sometimes I look at it and think maybe they don`t realize certain things are available as far a sports and recreation. Come see the things that I do and I`ll show you. I`m not just telling you I`m showing you it is possible. I don`t just say things to certain people and hear it so they feel better. I want them to see it so they can say, 'hey man if he can do it I can too.”'
Adversity. It doesn't define you. You define it.