As a eight year old, he was caught in an explosion in his school house that killed his 13 year old brother and seriously injured his legs. When they took him to the doctors, they said that they were pretty sure that he would never walk again, and recommended an amputation of his legs. But his parents refused the amputation suggestion. After two years, he was able to walk due to physical therapy. Later on he got a scholarship to Kansas University as a runner. He was known as the Kansas Flyer. He later competed in the summer Olympics with the great Jesse Owens.