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No legs?
        No problem

Inspirational high schooler in Ohio
tackles football in his own unique way

Story and Photos by Stan Grossfeld, Globe Staff, 10/19/05

DAYTON, Ohio -- The halftime announcement is met by squeals from the football crowd at Welcome Stadium, as if Ed Sullivan is introducing the Beatles.

''And now, ladies and gentlemen, the 2005 homecoming king, the very talented Mr. Bobby Martin."

Born without legs, Martin -- a 3-foot-1-inch, 117-pound high school football player -- quickly uses his hands to propel himself between a flag-toting honor guard lining the 50-yard line. The coronation is sweet. The new king stands tall. Martin is crowned, and his green-and-yellow No. 99 Cougars jersey is draped with a red cape that flutters in the wind, Superman-like. It was specially tailored by Sharon Murphy, his consumer science instructor at Colonel White High School. Even though she was ill, Murphy was there, caught up in Bobbymania.

Picture a young Cassius Clay from the hips up -- handsome, charismatic, bragging, funny -- and you've got Bobby. So on a recent Friday night, in a half-empty stadium several miles from his inner-city school, Bobby Martin has his dream come true.

''This day is going to go down in history," he declares. ''I always wanted to be the king. Always dreamed about it."

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