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Toledo football player not letting disability slow him down on the field

Larry Stephens was born with a hearing disability and got hearing aids at three years old, but when those weren't working, he had surgery to get cochlear implants.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo football is in the midst of spring ball and it's time for young guys to step up and make their mark. 

One of those guys is sophomore wide receiver Larry Stephens, but his journey to Division-1 football is more than just X's and O's. 

When his helmet and pads are on, Stephens looks like any of the other Rockets out on the field. 

But when his helmet comes off, you notice there's something different about him. Larry was born with a hearing disability, got hearing aids at three years old, but when those weren't working, he had surgery to get cochlear implants.

"I look at it as it's just part of who I am," said Stephens. "Don't let this be a reason to stop you or be afraid of who you are. Go for your dreams and never stop going. Just keep chasing."

"Larry's not looking for any handouts. He's just one of the guys that goes out and plays hard," said head coach Jason Candle. "He's a wide receiver. He's not any different than anybody else on the football team. You try to cater to his needs the best you can, but when you get out onto the football field, it's football. He goes and plays and plays at a high level, plays very fast, and enjoys what he's doing."

A tweet pinned to the top of Stephens' Twitter says, "I will be in the NFL." Daily motivation to make that tweet come true and inspire others along the way.

Credit: WTOL

"I have met a couple of kids that had hearing aids and they told me I was one of their biggest heroes just seeing me with hearing aids and seeing that I'm playing football. It meant a lot to them," said Stephens. "I just want to let the younger kids know that even if you have a disability, whatever disability you have,  don't let that stop you from chasing your biggest dreams."

"It forces you to have great communication skills and it actually helps everybody," said Candle. "Nobody really knows what it's like to live in those shoes, but you do the best to cater to the needs that he has so he can go out there and play football, play fast and play at an elite level."

Stephens played in five games last season and he's hoping this Fall the words, "Touchdown Larry Stephens," echo through the Glass Bowl.

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