Harris' Heroes: Vance Taylor doesn't let adversity slow him down

(WJLA) - An Alexandria man has never let adversity slow him down and now he’s passing that lesson on to another generation of children, including his two daughters.

Vance Taylor is not your typical basketball coach.

“I’ve never had a basketball coach in a wheelchair,” says Morgan Sheedy, 8.

He was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age 7 with a grim prognosis from his doctor.

“I’m supposed to have died in early adolescence," Taylor says.

But Taylor decided that was unacceptable and went on to graduate high school, college, and grad school, have a career as a Homeland Security expert, and get married and have two daughters. And it’s his younger daughter, 6-year-old Sammy, who got him out on the basketball court.

“First I told him that I wanted to play basketball and then I told him ‘I want you to be my coach, Daddy,’” Sammy says.

“I’ve played a lot of basketball video games, but I haven’t spent a lot of time on the court myself, but after thinking it over I realized, they’re 6 and 7, so it’s not like I have to teach them triangle offense,” Taylor says.

“I’ve learned how to dribble with both of my hands, shoot really well, make rebounds and do layups,” says 7-year-old Kaitlyn Milner.

Older daughter Isabelle helps her dad as the team’s 12th man.

“I like that he is always supportive and happy and cheerful,” she says.

The team just celebrated its first win, a confidence boost for the girls and a telling lesson for Coach Vance.

“Even if you’re in a wheelchair that doesn’t mean you can’t get out there and get it done,” he says. “I want them to take that same life lesson and know that just because they have challenges, they have to keep going and push forward and they can always get it done.”

Taylor also speaks to children with muscular dystrophy, saying it’s important for him to be the role model he never had.