“I want to send a message to those guys that meant to hurt me,” King said in a video. “Instead of hurting me, you made me better. Instead of taking my legs away, you gave me so much more to live for.”
On July 25, 2012, King stepped on an IED in Afghanistan. When he finally awoke several days later at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, both his legs had been amputated (one above the knee, the other below).
In the video, King admits that there were times when he wished he hadn't survived. But deep within, he heard a brave voice.
“My heart was saying, ‘Hey man, there’s so much good to give,’” King said. “‘If you can just get out of this hospital bed, you can probably be pretty inspiring to other people man. Keep fighting.’”
Since then, King has been wowing everyone with his courage and tenacity.
In April, he reportedly became the first bilateral amputee to complete the Boston Marathon.
A few months later, King achieved the seemingly impossible when he competed in the half Ironman in Augusta, Ga., a race that involves a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.
“This is so much harder than Boston,” King told Runners World during the running portion of the triathlon. “The tip of my stump is hitting my prosthetic. It feels like someone is smashing your elbow into the concrete every time you step down.”
Despite the agony he was in, King was determined to finish the race. Even after the course was closed, thus technically disqualifying him, he pressed on.
It ended up taking King almost 12 hours, but the 37-year-old father of two finally completed the half Ironman.
“This is the time when life wants to know if you’re really the fighter,” King said after completing the triathlon, per Runners World. “We all have that moment — the greatest moment. Right before the prince slays the dragon it looks like he is about to get killed. Those are the moments we live for.”
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On Veteran’s Day, as King’s story was shown at the Mall in Washington D.C., the crowd gave him a standing ovation, The Blaze reports.
“You can take my hands, you can take my eyes, you can take my hearing, but you cannot take away from me is that spirit inside of me that wants to win,” King said.
(Watch the full clip above.)
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Cedric King was identified as a Medal of Honor recipient. However, The Huffington Post could not independently verify this honor. Requests for comment from the U.S. Army have gone unanswered.