Former ASU wrestler
Anthony Robles to receive
Jimmy V Award for Perseverance
at 2011 ESPYs >>

by Gary Mihoces - Jun. 28, 2011 11:49 AM USA Today

Born with no right leg, Robles won the NCAA 125-pound title in March to cap a 36-0 senior year at Arizona State. On July 13 in Los Angeles, he will receive the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2011 ESPYs.


Courage Awards Nominee 2007 - Anthony Robles "I'm super excited. It's a huge honor," says Robles, 22, of Mesa, Ariz. "I'm trying to make a good speech for the acceptance. So hopefully it goes well." This will be a prime-time moment on ESPN, but Robles is no stranger to public speaking. Since his NCAA title, he has traveled the country as a motivational speaker, addressing wrestling camps and youth groups. He graduated in May with a degree in business communications. He chose that major because he had motivational speaking in mind.

At the NCAAs, his family wore t-shirts lettered with "Unstoppable." The theme of his motivational talks is "How to Be Unstoppable."

"We all wrestle with our own opponents in life," he says. "Some of us have physical things. ... I just share through my message that no matter what, we always can be unstoppable in our lives."

Robles' parents, Judy and Ron; his four siblings, and his girlfriend will be in Los Angeles for the ESPYs. "They're flying everybody out, which is awesome," he says.

On June 2, Maura Mandt, executive producer of the ESPYs, called Robles and his mother to tell them he'd been chosen by ESPN to receive the fifth annual Jimmy V award.

"That's one of the best things I will ever get to do in my life in my job," says Mandt. She says Robles' mom wept with joy. "It was hard not to cry myself," says Mandt.

The award is dedicated to the spirit of Valvano, former basketball coach at North Carolina State. According to ESPN's website, the award is give to a "member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through physical perseverance and determination."

Mandt says Robles exemplifies that.

"He knows even if he does something well, it's not good enough, and he's going to do something better," she says. "He's just a really remarkable kid that has a great spirit." Robles didn't excel immediately when he started wrestling as a ninth-grader. He says he was "terrible." But he was sixth in the state as a sophomore at Mesa High, then won the Arizona state title as junior and senior. In college, he was fourth in the NCAA as a sophomore and seventh as a junior. He put it all together last season.

The finals were in Philadelphia. That morning, Robles and his family visited the "Rocky steps" at the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Those were the steps Rocky Balboa ran up during his training in the movie "Rocky."

Robles brother, Nicolas, 19, donned a gray sweat suit (just like Rocky) and ran up the steps. Anthony walked up on his crutches. He can run on them, but he was focused on that night.

"We just went over to the Rocky steps just to get my mind off of the tournament and everything. It was draining on my body, but mentally it was exhausting, too," he says. It was nice just to get away ... and 'Rocky' is one of my favorite movies."

For the final match, he placed his crutches down off to the side of the mat and hopped on one leg to the center. As always, he wrestled from a down position, supported by two arms and one knee. He won 7-1 over defending national champion Matt McDonough of Iowa. He hopped off the mat a champion and jumped into the arms of ASU coach Shawn Charles.

In 2006, after winning a title at High School Seniors Nationals, Robles was nominated for an 2006 ESPY. He was a nominee, though not a winner in fan voting, in the category of "Best Male Athlete With a Disability." In addition to being selected for this year's Jimmy V award, Robles is again an ESPY nominee in the "Best Male Athlete With a Disability" category.

He does not see himself as disabled. You'll hear that when he accepts the Jimmy V award.

"I want to try to tie it into my message ... that there's no such thing as a disability," he says. " ... "We all have different barriers, different obstacles we have go through. But, really, I don't see any disabilities. ... It's just a bigger stage for me to try to let people know that."

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