Bird Brown: Miles Taylor taking the 'dis' out of disability

Miles Taylor works out on the bench as part of his routine with coach Nicolai Meyers. Taylor, a 2013 Westminster graduate with cerebral palsy, weighs just 99 pounds. He gained widespread social media attention when a video of him deadlifting 200 pounds went viral.
Miles Taylor works out on the bench as part of his routine with coach Nicolai Meyers. Taylor, a 2013 Westminster graduate with cerebral palsy, weighs just 99 pounds. He gained widespread social media attention when a video of him deadlifting 200 pounds went viral. (Jeffrey F. Bill / Carroll County Times)

Last week I wrote a column on sports movies and introduced some of you to my friend, Miles Taylor, the Westminster High School graduate setting the world on fire with his infectious smile and sheer determination. Taylor captured the nation’s attention when his personal best deadlift was put on social media and then went viral. Miles became a national celebrity and drew the attention of many celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, who invited Taylor and his trainer to the Arnold Weightlifting Championships where he recreated his personal best deadlift in front of an adoring crowd.

But to limit your introduction to Miles Taylor to his incredible feats of strength and his newfound celebrity would be to ignore the quality of the person that he really is and to minimize the impact that he has on all of the people that he comes in contact with.


For those of you that don’t know Miles, with apologies to Robert Fulgham, the author of the acclaimed “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” here is my version of All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Miles.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy.


There is a good reason why Taylor carries the nickname “Smiles.” If you’ve seen the videos on social media or been fortunate to come in contact with him in person, the young man doesn’t do anything but smile all of the time. He’s the kind of person that as soon as you see him coming your way, you can’t help but to smile yourself as he walks in to a room (or actually most likely a gym or a stadium) with an enormous smile on his face. Every. Single. Day.

He’s a testament that life doesn’t have to get you down, that you can still take on each and every day with a huge smile on your face. And mean it.

Life’s not fair, deal with it.

How is that someone with such a heart of gold and an amazing personality be dealt the physical hand of cards that have been thrown his way? Taylor was born with cerebral palsy, for some a debilitating disease that affects their motor movements that is caused by damage that occurs to the immature brain, most often before birth.

The Mayo Clinic website says signs and symptoms include “impaired movement associated with abnormal reflexes, floppiness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, unsteady walking, or some combination of these.”

Did those movies make us beat Urbana or give Oakdale all they can handle? They weren’t solely responsible, but they surely played a major part in the success.

Each of us has our own cross to bear, but anytime I think that I’m having a bad day, when my knees and hips remind me of every hard tackle, every shot, every cut and move of my years playing soccer with shooting pain that sometimes feels unbearable, it’s easy to think of that megawatt smile and what I have to deal with seems so insignificant.

Embrace your own story and share the light.

At Westminster High School, and I’m sure at other schools across the country, we have an assembly called Unity Day to embrace diversity and share stories and talents in order to make connections across a wide variety of social and economic differences. A few years back, Taylor told the riveting story of his life from his adoption as a baby to losing his mother and the loving father who gave him the life that he enjoys now.

As he told his story to the audience of students, teachers and administrators, you couldn’t find a dry eye in the place. The real impact of Taylor sharing his story will probably be hard to ever measure, but the impression he made on everyone in that room that day will surely live on in each one of us.

Being kind can be an inspiration for others to do the same.

Being kind takes so little effort on each of our part and the kindness we show to others can have a ripple effect that goes on for miles and miles (pun intended) and days and days. Taylor doesn’t do what he does so that he can achieve any stardom or newfound riches, he does what he does — serve as a beacon of light in an otherwise gloomy world — because that is who he is to the core. I have only known Miles since moving in to the world of education, but he doesn’t know any other way than to be kind to everyone he comes in contact with and we are each inspired to do the same in return.

God has a plan for each of us, even if we don’t know what it is. When I was growing up, students with the same or similar physical limitations as Miles were probably not in the same school as “normal” kids. Because they were considered disabilities. The fact that our kids get to grow up interacting with someone like Miles whose whole message is that he sets out every day to take the “dis” out of disability is an amazing gift.


Miles Taylor is a message we all can learn from.

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