Isaiah Bird, a 10-year-old boy from Long Island, is the wrestler with no legs featured in Colin Kaepernick’s Nike commercial. The controversial commercial, narrated by Kaepernick, shows Bird, who was born without legs, in action on the mat. Also featured are Serena Williams, Odell Beckham Jr., Eliud Kipchoge, Lacey Baker, Megan Blunk, Charlie Jabaley, Alicia Woolcott, Zeina Nassar and LeBron James. The commercial aired for the first time on U.S. television during the live broadcast of the NFL opener between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 6. According to Ad Week, the commercial was created by Wieden + Kennedy.
In the opening of the commercial, Kaepernick said, “If people say your dreams are crazy, if they laugh at what you think you can do, OK, stay that way because what nonbelievers fail to understand is that calling a dream crazy is not an insult. It’s a compliment.” Adam Lefkoe of Bleacher Report said that Kaepernick’s appearance in the commercial was unlikely to affect ratings but that “99 percent of (players) support Colin Kaepernick.”
Here’s what you need to know:
As Bird Is on Screen, Kaepernick Says, ‘If They Laugh at What You Think You Can Do… Good’
Bird is the second athlete to be shown on screen. Kaepernick says in the voiceover while Bird wrestles, “If they laugh at what you think you can do… good… Stay that way.” In addition to wrestling, Bird is also known for his achievements in soccer, football, track, swimming, surfing, skateboarding, according to an ABC News feature.
Bird’s Heroics Were Covered by ESPN in 2015
In 2015, Bird’s heroics were covered by ESPN’s No Excuses series. The feature was described by the network as, “A 7-year-old wrestler born without legs finds strength on the mat and a father figure in his compassionate coach.” Bird’s coach is Miguel Rodriguez. ESPN followed up on their relationship in 2017 saying that Rodriguez had worked with Bird since Bird was five. The coach added that he would always be a part of Bird’s life. In 2017, Bird went 27-12 wrestling competitively.
Bird’s Secret Is to Just ‘Keep Practicing & Practicing’
Speaking to ABC News, [I say:] ‘I can do this. There’s no excuse. I can do this.’ And I just do it. And I keep practicing and practicing. If I, one day I get pinned… I go back to practicing and practicing and I get better and better and better.” In the same feature, Miguel Rodriguez said, “He has no idea what changes he’s making in other people. Hopefully one day he cane ba motivational speaker. Maybe he can, you know, travel the world and just show people that, you know what, he did it and that they can do it, too.”
Bird Lived in a Shelter With His Mother in 2014
Bird’s story was first reported by News 12 in his native Long Island in 2014. At that time, Bird had been living in a shelter with his mother, Bernadette Hopton, and younger brother in Freeport. It wasn’t until UFC middleweight Chris Weidman posted the story on his social media that a fundraiser was set up and Bird and his family were able to move into a shelter in June 2014, Newsday later reported.
During the News 12 report, Bird told the world, “I have no legs, but I don’t need any legs because I am a wrestler.”