Jimmy V Award winner Rob Mendez: 'Focus on what you can do instead of what you can't'

PHOTO: Rob Mendez, the head coach for the Prospect High School Junior Varsity football team, talks to his team in the huddle during their first game of the season against Santa Clara High School, Aug. 24, 2018, in Saratoga, Calif. PlayEzra Shaw/Getty Images
WATCH Football coach wins Jimmy V Award at ESPYs in inspiring moment

In what is usually one of the more inspiring moments of the night, the Jimmy V Award at the 2019 ESPYS went to Rob Mendez, the head junior varsity coach of a high school football team in Saratoga, California.

Mendez was born without arms and legs because of a rare syndrome, Tetra-Amelia, but that's something the football mentor has never let get in his way.

In accepting the great honor on Wednesday night, Mendez, not only a coach but a motivational speaker, said, "Wow, can't believe I'm here."

He thanked his parents for making him always feel normal and his father for always playing ball with him. Choking back the tears, he also thanked his players and the game of football "for all it's given me and allowing me to be a part of a team."

"If there's any message I want to give you guys tonight is ... when you focus on what you can do instead of what you can't do, you really can go places in this world," he said.

For anyone out there not sure they can do something, "You can do it," he said.

"And I'm not done yet," he added. "I've made it this far and who says I can't go further."

Mendez was featured earlier this year by ESPN in a special called, "Who Says I Can't."

The feature highlighted Mendez's heart and determination, and his refusal to even complain about his condition.

A 49ers fan growing up, Mendez began his coaching career way back while he was in high school. Mendez says his team "made me feel normal" and included him as a team manager as a freshman.

By senior year, he was coaching the quarterbacks. From that point on, the sky was the limit.

PHOTO: Rob Mendez, the head coach for the Prospect High School Junior Varsity football team, watches his team practice before their first game of the season against Santa Clara High School, Aug. 24, 2018, in Saratoga, Calif. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Rob Mendez, the head coach for the Prospect High School Junior Varsity football team, watches his team practice before their first game of the season against Santa Clara High School, Aug. 24, 2018, in Saratoga, Calif.

After spending more than a decade as an assistant coach at various high schools around his area, he took over as head junior varsity coach at Prospect High in 2018 and his team went 8-2 last year.

In fact, they won seven in a row at one point, outscoring teams 151-32 during that streak.

"Finally somebody gave me the opportunity," he said of getting his first head coaching job. "That lights a fire under me and gets me excited to prove people wrong."