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Perseverance pays: South Laurel grad Jace Bowling shows a fighting spirit through adversity

Bowling played basketball at South Laurel.
Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 6:20 PM EDT
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LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - Jace Bowling took advantage of his opportunity on South Laurel’s senior night when he got his first start.

”Every game like any time I go in, they’re always like, ‘You better hit a three,‘” Bowling said. “I just got an open look and I shot it and it went in.”

“It was crazy. He did it in the beginning of the season too,” Brett Norvell said, a fellow senior basketball player at South Laurel. “I was very happy for him, it was a very special moment.”

But that moment, and the excitement around it, was just a culmination of who Jace is and what he’s overcome.

Bowling came to the United States at a young age.

“I adopted Jace from Wuhang, China when he was five years old, he was in an orphanage,” Ed Bowling said, Jace’s father.

He already had his own challenge before he even reached school age.

“Post - I don’t even pay attention to it. I don’t even know what it’s called. Like post formal disorder, something like that,” Jace Bowling said.

The specific term is Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), which can lead to a deformed hip and shortened leg. In Jace’s case, it led to him getting a prosthetic leg.

“I had a prosthetic I could bend since I was five or six,” Jace explained. “And then they kept getting taller and taller and I just kept getting a new one.”

However, Jace doesn’t let any of that affect him.

“I was trying to help him out and do stuff and I remember that today, his first comment to me was, ‘Coach, don’t treat me any different. Just treat me like you would any other kid, any other player,” South Laurel Boys Basketball Coach Jeff Davis said. “And that was 5th grade maybe. And I respected that.”

And from an early age, the kids around him didn’t let it affect them either.

“So they will ask him what happened and they want to touch his prosthetic leg, and then they’re done with it and they just treat him like normal,” Ed Bowling said.

That led to Jace Bowling becoming just another student and one of the guys in the locker room.

“I mean nobody really treated me different,” Jace said.

“Yeah he’s just like one of us, but there’s stuff he can’t do but he’s no different from any of us,” Norvell added.

More than that, Bowling became an inspiration, not letting any of his shortcomings hold him back. It was a testament to his father who from the beginning, wouldn’t treat him any differently.

“When you have some guys who don’t wanna be at practice or are nicked up or not feeling good, they can always look down the line and say wait a minute. Really, I’m feeling this way and this guy over here is hurting more than me, and he’s doing it,” Davis said.

“It gives like a spotlight kinda to just show like other people that you can do things you want when you put your mind to it. I just use it as that,” Jace added.

Bowling was named the Bluegrass Orthopedics Male Champion and the 2019 Trispys Boys Inspirational Award. He will attend EKU in the fall.

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