Isaiah Acosta is proof you don’t need a voice to be heard.
The 17-year-old Arizona native, who was born without a jaw or pathways for oxygen to enter his body, is the subject of a recent viral documentary short produced by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
The six-minute film captures Acosta fulfilling his dream of becoming a rapper despite being mute.
“Everything in his body is a mirror image, flipped backwards. His stomach, his heart, I mean everything,” Acosta’s mom, Tarah, explains in the documentary. “I was told he wasn’t going to walk, talk, pretty much be bed bound. I mean, every day we wake up, we’re lucky that he’s here.”
Acosta can’t speak but communicates with the help of his smartphone and unique gestures. His principal, friends and family describe him as sociable. His mother also says he’s unashamed of his appearance.
“He’s not scared to be rejected; I mean, Isaiah has been offered a jaw for a few years. He doesn’t want it,” his mother said, explaining that the cosmetic jaw wouldn’t have brought him a better quality of life.
The documentary also shows how Acosta is able to record his first rap single “Oxygen to Fly” thanks to Phoenix rapper Tikey Patterson, aka Trap House. The lyrics, written by Acosta, are about overcoming his struggles and doubts to survive. Trap House voices the words on the track and in the music video.
“My songwriting started with my emotions, what I’ve been through, what I still go through,” Acosta told The Huffington Post via email. “I wanted people to hear me out for me.”
The teen says he also wanted to help others who are mute and the kids at Children’s Miracle Network. “We all are somebody,” he said.
Acosta was a speaker at this year’s South by Southwest after the documentary and his story went viral. “Oxygen to Fly” is currently available on iTunes, Spotify or at oxygentofly.org, and every download makes a donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
“Please get involved in your Children’s Miracle Network Hospital help keep [making] miracles like me keep going in life,” Acosta wrote under Upworthy’s Facebook post of the video, which went viral. “Do something nice for someone. If you come across a mute person don’t be mute on them, talk to them.”
Watch his full documentary below.
This article has been updated with quotes from Acosta.