If you happened upon a Mountain Vista High School basketball practice, you might wonder who the tall, quiet junior was knocking down shot after shot from beyond the 3-point arc during shoot-around.
And if he was wearing sweatpants, you likely wouldn’t even notice that there was anything different about the 6-foot-5 Bailey Roby.
But Roby, who was born with just three toes on each foot, had both of his legs amputated as a baby. As he grew older, sports didn’t look like much of a possibility for him, yet that never stopped him from trying.
Fit for his first pair of prosthetic legs at age 3, he picked up golf and baseball while he was in elementary school and started playing basketball in the eighth grade. And with a strong outside touch, it’s no wonder Roby calls basketball his “main game.”
The Mountain Vista junior was recently fit for a pair of Ossur Flex-Run legs – similar to those of South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius – and now finds he can run faster and jump higher than he ever has before. He also finds himself with a secured spot as a player/manager for the Golden Eagles’ junior varsity basketball team.
“He has pretty good skills, especially at shooting the ball,” said Mountain Vista head coach Robert Wood. “He works hard. It’s a real challenge. You can imagine what he’s going through just to try to run and keep up and do all the things it takes to play basketball. … He does a nice job. He’s a great kid and he’s real eager to do what you ask him to do and do the best that he possibly can do.”
Roby, a big Denver Nuggets fan who idolizes Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried, understands he won’t be the first player off the bench for the Golden Eagles this season, and he’s OK with that. After all, playing Unified ball, he has already experienced what it is like to knock down a 3-pointer and score a layup on the same Pepsi Center floor where his heroes play.
Since he’s gotten his new legs, though, he feels more ready than ever, if given the chance to take the floor in front of his peers.
“They feel great,” Roby said of his new legs. “I can run really well now. Practice is going well and our season is coming really soon. … I’ll be ready if someone gets hurt.”
Whether he plays or not, Roby’s presence is a boost for his teammates.
“He’s just an inspiration to us all,” said senior Mitch Carter, a varsity captain who has known Roby for three years. “Given the situation he’s in, not having legs, and he’s still out here working hard. It just makes us want to go 10 times harder.
“I’ve always watched him play Unified, going out there and sinking threes. Now that he’s out here with us, making his dreams come true, it’s great to be a part of that.”