Kyler Moore lost his right leg below the knee when he was only 13 years old. If you think this kept the teen from pursuing his passion for high-impact sports, then you don’t know Kyler.
Through a combination of hard work, relentless hope and true grit, Kyler, now 15, is proving that missing a leg can’t slow him down. Kyler just finished his first season on the junior varsity basketball team at Valhalla High School in El Cajon, and began playing on the volleyball team in March.
“That rush you get on the court, there’s nothing like it,” he says.
Before he turned 8 years old, Kyler spent most of his time on the soccer field and basketball court. Then, a vascular birthmark on his right foot developed into an arterial venous malformation — a tangled web of blood vessels that restricted blood flow in his leg and caused severe pain.
For five years, he endured more than a dozen procedures to try to save his leg. He couldn’t walk, let alone run or kick a ball. Kyler told his parents he was ready for an amputation long before all medical options were exhausted.
“He knew his life was going to be better with his leg gone. He just knew it,” says Kyler’s mother, Theresa Moore, a clinical lead in the Sharp Memorial Hospital Emergency Department. “It took us a little longer to get there.”
After the surgery, Kyler was determined to get back to sports. He met Marc Robinson, a physical therapist at Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Center, who taught Kyler how to thrive on and off the court. With Robinson’s guidance, Kyler learned how to stand, balance, shift his weight, shoot a basket and kick a ball wearing his prosthetic leg.
Robinson says Kyler progressed quickly.
“He assumed he would be getting back to soccer and basketball, and he was extremely motivated to reach those goals,” Robinson says. “Not everyone comes in with that type of motivation. That plays a huge role in someone’s success.” Friends, family and his mother’s co-workers at Sharp Memorial began raising money to buy Kyler a specialized prosthetic leg for sports, which can cost as much as a car. The El Cajon Professional Firefighters Foundation held a fundraiser in his honor, and Challenged Athletes Foundation awarded Kyler a grant toward the purchase.
In the meantime, Kyler found a way to get involved in his school’s basketball team from the sidelines, even if that meant handing water bottles to the players. The coaches noticed his talent for shooting hoops during practice and let him know there was a spot for him on the team when he received his new prosthetic sports leg.
In January, Kyler hit the court for his first game with his brand new prosthetic, sinking a shot from the three-point line. This spring, he earned a spot on the junior varsity volleyball team, coached by his older brother, Bryson, who says he pushes Kyler just as hard as his teammates.
“It’s incredibly emotional seeing Kyler play,” Moore says. “For years, he was taken away from his passion. Now, seeing him out there, with the great attitude that he has — it’s just wonderful.”
For the news media: To talk with Kyler and his family for an upcoming news story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.