PIEDMONT — There has been a lot of adversity in Colin Cutter's life. It started at birth, and it's seemingly never stopped.
He's played several sports. Some he's enjoyed, some he gave up on. But there has been one constant: basketball. And he wasn't about to let anything get in the way of his dream.
Some people spend their whole lives searching for their calling. Not Cutter. The Piedmont graduate knew he wanted to be a basketball star when he was 5 years old.
And after all he battled to get to that point, there wasn't any stopping him. Cutter's dream came true earlier this year when he signed with Missouri to play wheelchair basketball.
It was a culmination of 18 years of hard work that didn't look like would occur at all.
Cutter was born with spina bifida, a condition where there is an opening in the spine that does not protect the spinal cord and is susceptible to infection and severe nerve damage.
Without the proper facilities in Zimbabwe, where the family was because of father Jimmy's mission trip, the family flew back to Oklahoma.
"The doctors (in Zimbabwe) didn't know what it was, but my parents wouldn't take no for an answer," Cutter said.
When the family returned to the U.S., the doctors recognized what they needed to do and fused his spine, but it caused damage to his legs and left him unable to walk.
Cutter admits the first few years of his life were difficult. But after moving to Moore when he was 3 and then to Piedmont when he was 10, his life was much like anybody else's at that age.
Cutter said he's learned how to open himself up to people. He didn't want to be pitied, and his outgoing personality made him fit right in.
"He's one of the best kids I've ever taught," Piedmont softball coach Rick Scott said. "His heart and his willingness — it's unbelievable. He just has that attitude that nothing is wrong with him."
Cutter has always been a sports nut, saying he has been willing to try every sport at least once. But when he was 4, he tried basketball and track and field for the first time.
He hasn't stopped since.
He has proved to be a world-class athlete in both basketball and track and field, excelling at both the national and international levels in both, and his dream of playing at the college level became closer to reality with each passing year.
There are only seven Division I wheelchair basketball programs in the nation, and Cutter applied and was accepted to five of them.
In the end, it came down to Missouri and Penn State. Both offered full-ride scholarships. The Tigers are one of those seven wheelchair basketball teams, while the Nittany Lions have made their name for having a great wheelchair track and field team. They are, however, not a Division I basketball program.
"It was so tough. I talked to everybody — my family, teachers, counselors — everybody," Cutter said. "It was a three-month long process, but I'm happy with my choice."
One of the things that swayed his decision was the leadership of the Missouri program. The Tigers are coached by Ron Lykins, arguably the most famous wheelchair basketball coach in the nation.
"You could compare him to Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski of Duke)," Cutter said.
The distance away from home wasn't an issue. For Cutter who has traveled so much for events, that wasn't a factor.
However, having a good sports psychology program was, since that's what Cutter intends to study.
Cutter said he feels blessed to know exactly what he wants to do. He would love to coach when he gets older and maybe even try to start his own wheelchair basketball school.
"There are only seven big programs. I would love to be able to start my own. There are no schools out west. Who wouldn't want to live in California?" he said.
For now, those dreams are on hold as Cutter still has some athletic goals to accomplish. And nobody is about to underestimate him now.
"When it comes to his heart and attitude and determination, you can't beat Colin," Scott said. "He inspires me every day."