Nick Vujicic was born with no arms or legs – but he doesn’t let the details stop him.
The brave 26-year-old – who is mainly torso – plays football and golf, swims, and surfs, despite having no limbs.
Nick has a small foot on his left hip which helps him balance and enables him to kick. He uses his one foot to type, write with a pen and pick things up between his toes.
Dive right in: Nick Vujicic, born without legs or arms, plunges into a pool for a swim
Bethany Hamilton teaches Nick how to surf in Hawaii in 2008. Bethany got her arm bitten off by a shark when she was a teenager – and was back on a surfboard within three weeks.
Due to his faith as an Evangelical Christian, Nick has chosen to remain a virgin until marriage although he has had long-term girlfriends in the past.
‘He’s very modest but he gets marriage proposals from women all the time,’ said Nick’s friend and publicist Steve Appel, from Los Angeles.
Water sports aren’t Nick’s only thing – he also plays golf with a club tucked under his chin, and is a huge fan of the English Premier League
Nick at school as a ten-year-old child. His parents decided not to send him to a special school – a decision he said was very hard for him, but which may have been the best decision they could have made for him
‘He would love to get married and start a family but he’s waiting for the right girl to come along.’
When Nick was born his father was so shocked he left the hospital room to vomit. His distraught mother couldn’t bring herself to hold him until he was four months old.
His disability came without any medical explanation – a rare occurrence called Phocomelia – and Nick and his parents spent many years asking why this cruel trick would happen to them.
‘My mother was a nurse and she did everything right during pregnancy but she still blamed herself,’ he said.
‘It was so hard for them but right from the start they did their best to make me independent.
‘My dad put me in the water at 18 months and gave the courage to learn how to swim.
‘I also got really into football and skateboarding. I totally love the English Premier League.’
Nick’s father was a computer programmer and accountant and he taught his little son how to type with his toe at just 6 years old.
His mum invented a special plastic device that meant he could hold a pen and pencil.
Despite the risk of bullying, his parents insisted Nick attended mainstream school.
‘It was the best decision they could have made for me,’ adds Nick, who later achieved a degree in Financial Planning and Real Estate. ‘It was very hard but it gave me independence.’
Nick, who was teased and bullied, had an electric wheelchair for mobility, and a team of carers to help him.
‘I was deeply depressed when I was eight years old,’ he said. ‘I went to my mum crying and told her I wanted to kill myself.
Nick pictured during his travels in India. He has visited 24 different countries, touring the world as a motivational speaker
Nick enjoys the Hawaiian sun in his customised electric wheelchair
‘I felt cold and bitter. I hated God for doing this to me and was terrified of what would happen when my parents weren’t there to look after me.
‘I could brush my own teeth with a wall mounted brush and wash my own hair with pump action soap, but there was so much that was impossible for me.’
At age ten Nick, tried to drown himself in the bath but luckily the attempt was unsuccessful.
‘I felt there was no purpose when you lack purpose and strength it is hard to hold on,’ he said.
But with the help of his religion, friends and family, Nick managed to pull through to become an international symbol of triumph over adversity.
Nick writes using his mouth
The football fan is now a motivational speaker and has travelled to over 24 countries speaking to groups of up to 110,000 people.
‘When I was 13 I read a newspaper article about a disabled man who had managed to achieve great things and help others,’ said Nick, who also plays golf with the club tucked under his chin.
‘I realised why God had made us like this – to give hope to others. It was so inspirational to me that I decided to use my life to encourage other people and give them the courage that the article had given me.
‘I decided to be thankful for what I do have, not get angry about what I don’t.
‘I looked at myself in the mirror and said: ‘You know what the world is right that I have no arms or legs, but they’ll never take away the beauty of my eyes.’ I wanted to concentrate on something good that I had.’
In 1990 Nick won the Australian Young Citizen of the Year award for his bravery and perseverance.
‘When kids run up to me and ask ‘what happened?’ I just lean over and whisper ‘cigarettes’, he laughed.
‘And once I was in a car and this girl at traffic lights was giving me the eye. She could only see my head so I decided to do a 360 in the car seat to freak her out.
‘Her face was like woooooooah what is going on? She sped off really quickly.’
Nick began travelling the world and in 2008 he went to Hawaii and met surfing master Bethany Hamilton, who had her arm bitten off by a shark when she was 12.
‘She was amazing, said Nick. ‘She taught me how to surf and I was terrified at first, but once I got up there it felt absolutely fantastic and I caught some waves pretty well.’
Nick quickly learned how to do three 360 degree spins on his board – a feat that got him on the cover of Surfer magazine within 48 hours.
‘No one has ever done that in the history of surfing,’ he said.
‘But I have a very low centre of gravity so I’ve got pretty good balance.’
He moved to Los Angeles two years ago and plans to continue to travel the world – this year he will visit South America and the Middle East.
‘I tell people to keep on getting up when they fall and to always love themselves,’ he said.
‘If I can encourage just one person then my job in this life is done.