Marlon Shirley: From Foster Care To Athletic Success


Do you still have Olympic fever?  Congratulations to all our amazing Olympic Games 2012 athletes.  Let me share a few records with you:

  • Swimmer Michael Phelps is now the most decorated Olympian of all time.
  • Gymnast Gabrielle Douglas is the first African-American all-around Olympic champion and the first U.S. gymnast to win both that title and the team gold in the same Olympic Games.
  • Swimmer Katie Ledecky, America’s youngest Olympian earned the title of America’s youngest gold medalist
  • Tennis sisters Venus and Serena Williams earned their third doubles gold medal.


Somehow through all the current London Summer Olympics chatter I heard about the achievements of Marlon Shirley.  Let me mention a few.  Marlon was:

  • 2008: U.S. Paralympic Team member, Track & Field – Paralympic Games, Beijing, China
  • 2007: World record, T44/F44 100m (10.91) Espoo, Finland
  • 2005: Recipient of the San Diego Hall of Fame Best Disabled Athlete Award
  • 2004: Gold medal, 100m; Silver medal, 200m; Bronze medal, long jump -Paralympic Games, Athens, Greece
  • 2003: First T44 (below-the-knee amputee) to break 11.0 seconds in 100m – 10.97
  • 2003: ESPY Award recipient, Best Athlete with a Physical Disability
  • 2002: T44/F44 Long Jump world record (6.79m) Villeneuved’Ascq, France
  • 2002: Three gold medals, 100m, long jump, 4x100m relay – IPC Athletics World Championships, Lille, France
  • 2000: Gold medal, 100m; Silver medal, high jump -Paralympic Games, Sydney, Australia


I’m sharing Marlon’s story because he was abandoned by his mother at age three.  He lived with other kids on the streets of Las Vegas. He was eventually placed in the foster care system where he moved in and out of orphanages.  At five years old, Marlon lost his left foot in a lawn mower accident. After years in the foster care system, Marlon was adopted by a family in Utah who helped him work through his traumas and opened the door to a world of opportunity.  Several years after his first accident, a high school football injury resulted in the further amputation of the lower section of his left leg. Marlon owns the world record in the 100-meter dash and has earned the designation as the only amputee to break the 11-second barrier in that race.  His other interests include golfing, off-road racing, R.C. modeling, photography, snowboarding.


Marlon’s story is one of triumph and inspiration – from foster care to athletic success.


Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer
The Teen Toolbox provides youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic enrichment opportunities to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.

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