The Jimmy V honoree is entering his second year as Prospect High School’s junior varsity coach in California.
Prospect High School junior varsity football coach Rob Mendez, who was born without limbs, was honored on Wednesday night at the ESPYS with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
After thanking his family and team, Mendez thanked the game of football.
“It’s honestly been hard for me to fathom receiving this award, to be recognized alongside heroes of mine like coach Valvano, Stuart Scott, Jim Kelly and so many others,” Mendez said. “But the reality is I am here. And if there’s any message I want to give you guys tonight, it’s to look at me and see how much passion I put into coaching and how far it’s gotten me. When you dedicate yourself to something and open your mind to different possibilities and focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t do, you really can go places in this world.”
The award is named after the late North Carolina State men’s basketball coach and broadcaster Jimmy Valvano and is awarded annually to “a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination.”
Mendez, 31, was born without limbs due to a rare disorder called tetra-amelia syndrome. Unable to play football, Mendez learned the fundamentals of the sport by playing Madden. He became a manager for his high school football team as a freshman and served as the team’s quarterbacks coach his senior year.
After spending 12 years serving as an assistant coach at various local high school programs, Mendez was named junior varsity head coach at Prospect–a Bay Area high school in Saratoga, Calif.–ahead of the 2018 season. The team went 8–2 in his first year at the helm.
Mendez was profiled in a SportsCenter special in February.
ESPN announced that Mendez would receive this year’s award in June.
“I am so honored,” Mendez captioned a photo after the announcement. “I cannot even put it into words.”
The Jimmy V honoree is entering his second year as Prospect’s JV coach.