Meet Adaptive Athlete: NEFTALI MENDOZA




DOB: September 25th, 1994

Injury: Above Knee Amputee

Sport: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Hyper 2 Nef Mendoza-50

Neftali grew up in Houston, TX but today permanently resides in San Antonio. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 2014 straight out of high school at the age of 18. His first duty station was Camp Lejeune, NC and first unit was 2nd light armored reconnaissance alpha company. Later, his enlistment continued in Alpha company attached to 1st Battalion 6th Marines as a BLT aboard the 22nd MEU and conducted operation Odyssey Lighting on the Islamic state in Libya.

In 2018, he completed his enlistment and started attending college to complete his degree in criminal justice. Nef was enrolled in the police academy program, slated to begin in February of 2019, but his body collapsed unexpectedly and he was hospitalized. Doctors sedated him for three weeks and performed five major surgeries to try and save his life, one them being the above knee amputation of his left leg. He had a long road to recovery ahead of him, but all I could was motivated by getting back into his routine of running, Jiu jitsu, and regular life.

Nef was an athletic kid from the early age of six, starting off with soccer. Ultimately he tried many sports including football, wrestling, track, and Jiu jitsu. Now missing his leg and other complications from surgery, Nef was having difficulty grasping the idea that he would need to learn and adapt to his new lifestyle. He struggled a lot with both the physical and mental side of things, but had an incredible support system in his parents and wife which he thanks immensely for walking alongside him.

In May of 2019, Nef got his prosthetic leg, but he didn’t want to wait for the VA’s physical therapy so he began teaching himself how to walk again by watching YouTube videos and getting some advice from people with prosthetic legs. He started going to the gym again and tried adapting to my new body. He says it hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it. October 2019, Nef joined a group called Catapult in Houston as an adaptive athlete and he participated in the paratriathlon camp, He completed a swim, cycle, and run, despite not having a running leg and opting instead to use crutches. Three weeks later, he completed his very first Houston half-marathon on a hand cycle.

Nef has big goals, one of which is to open up his own gym with a focus on helping others like him. He also wants to explore possibilities to pursue a career with the police force, finding out what physical standards he needs to pass. Through Hyper, Nef wants to better himself both physically and mentally to create a foundation for his everyday life going forwards. He is also looking forward to getting back to running, something he loved doing before his amputation.