Cedric King joined the Army after high school. College had to wait because he didn’t want his mom to take on debt for his education. He had no expectations except to make his mom and grandparents proud. He headed to Iraq, became an elite Army Ranger, went back to Iraq, and then, in 2012, Afghanistan.
He was leading his platoon on a foot patrol, searching for an improvised explosive device (IED) facility when, he says, "I found out that hard way where the explosive was.” Twelve men walking ahead of him had stepped on the same spot, but it was Cedric’s step that triggered the IED.
When he reached Walter Reed, it took his wife Khieda thirty minutes to get up the courage to walk in his room. He was unconscious and covered with tubes: breathing tube, feeding tube, chest tube, and wound vacuums.
Then came the day every family member dreads -- when the patient wakes up and asks about the extent of his injuries. Cedric looked down and said to Khieda, "Where’s my foot? I can’t see it.” It was up to Khieda to tell him his left leg was gone. He let out a cry.
Then he asked about his right leg. Again Khieda gave him the awful news. He let out another cry. Then, after a mere three minutes, he said, "Okay. I’ll go on.” That was it. The key to his stoicism, she says, is his determination not to let his family worry about him.
Known for his infectious smile and upbeat attitude, Cedric's strength comes from his faith and upbringing, plus his strong marriage. He credits Khieda with his recovery.
"People want to be around positive people,” he says. "Nobody wants to hear someone feeling sorry for himself. The ones who you see who are sad – it breaks your heart.”
The Yellow Ribbon Fund helped out by babysitting the King's two little girls. The family has also been able to depend on YRF’s free cab rides. And when Khieda’s mom and other relatives came to visit, YRF arranged for free hotel rooms.
Since becoming an outpatient, he has found a new calling: motivational speaker. He has spoken to football teams like the Baltimore Ravens and the Carolina Panthers, who went out and won right after hearing his presentation.
Before his injuries, Cedric had competed in the grueling, three-day "Best Ranger” competition four times. After his injuries, he was still able to complete a fifth. Just 21 months after losing his legs, Cedric completed the Boston marathon and has completed many extreme races since then. Now a full-time inspirational athlete and speaker, Cedric inspires audiences with his story of endurance and grit, proving that there are no limits to accomplishing whatever it is you want, with or without legs.