Tallahassee weightlifter defies the odds

By: Michael Hudak | WCTV Eyewitness News
January 17, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Everyone has a story. Everyone has something that they struggle with. Everyone has something that they want to overcome.

Life was simple for Lee Jamieson. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school, with a potential scholarship to the Marines on the horizon.

"I played football junior and senior year of high school," Jamieson said. "I did weight training on my own. I did cross fit on my own."

He had no idea that his fitness journey would be one filled with twists, turns and speed bumps.

Flash back to December of 2013. Lee was entering his final semester of high school.

"I went on a skiing trip with my college group at church," Lee said. "I had a good day (on the slopes), and I went for one last run. I was going down the hill, getting a little too fast."

Lee's eyes light up, as if he was re-living the moment.

"I tried to stop myself, but my ski got caught in the snow," Lee said. "It threw me into a frozen snow drift."

Life would never be the same.

"I hit my head and my shoulder," Lee said. "It unplugged all the nerves from my spinal chord."

Lee suffered permanent nerve damage, with permanent implications.

"I knew that it was bad enough that I probably wouldn't be able to become a Marine," Lee said. "Honestly, that was on my mind more-so than the injury."

The road to recovery started with a decision.

"Just seeing that I wasn't going to get anywhere near where I wanted to be with this, I looked at it as this was basically just an anchor for me," Lee said. "It was holding me down. It was keeping me from things that I wanted to do."

Lee made the decision to amputate his right arm. It closed many doors, but opened many more.

"Every time I had a surgery, that was my first question to the doctors," Lee said, as his eyes lit up. "When can I get back to it? When can I get back to the gym?"

That time would come sooner than you think.

"As soon as I was able to, I was right back in it," Lee said. "Trying to figure out how to do everything completely isolated on the left side. Whatever I can do, as much as I can do it."

Flash forward to now, Lee has made unprecedented strides at Gold's Gym in Tallahassee. He takes a quick break to talk in between sets, defying the odds with every single workout.

"It's just hard to hold on to the weight," Lee says, cracking a smile. "But, I love this. It's what I live for."

In November, Lee hit a personal record 315-pound dead lift with one arm.

"You basically have a choice," Lee said, with a look of determination. "You can just give up and let your injury define you. That's not me. That's not what I wanted to do. This is what I love and I'm not going to let this stop me from doing what I love."

It all starts with a decision.

"Just keep what you love more important than anything that's trying to tear you down," Lee said with a smile. "You'll come out on top."

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