Local student over comes the odds

APEX Forsythe's story started with his birth in 1992, but his incredible story began three years later on Thanksgiving Day.

"I remember begging my dad to go, I do remember that," Forsythe said.

He was begging to go help feed his dad's pet Bengal tiger --300 pound Sabu.

Just a toddler, Forsythe eventually got too close and the tiger attacked --clamping onto his face and head. His mother wasn't there, but soon got the horrifying news.

"Like a dream, a nightmare ... just wondering, hoping that he was going to be okay," Tyler's mother Annette Truelove-Forsythe said.

After 14 hours of surgery, Forsythe's life was saved; however, his vision was not.

When asked if he remembers what it was like to see, he says he is not sure.

"I just remember a huge mass of blue with the sun, with like pink and red fading in the background, because it was setting that's all," Forsythe said.

His father, Mark Forsythe, was ultimately found guilty of misdemeanor child abuse and sentenced to community service and probation. He's no longer an active part of the family; it's still an open wound.

"I have never heard my dad ever apologize for anything in my lifetime, that I can remember," Forsythe said. "He might have, I don't know, but I can't remember. I've always wanted him to, but I've never heard him say it."

As Forsythe recovered, he began the process of building a life under new rules, but still one without limitations.

"He's looked at a challenge and he's never said 'I can't,'" Braille specialist Elizabeth Gregory said. "He's always said 'I'll try.'"

Forsythe's good accomplishments at school were celebrated, but secretly so were the bad ones, like running in the halls.

"I would be like 'Oh Tyler, you can't do that' and you'd correct him just like the other kids, but on the other hand you're like 'Oh yeah, he's normal just like everyone else,'" Annette Forsythe said.

At home, he lived a life no different than any other little brother.

"They did bash me a lot," Forsythe said. "It was pretty bad."

With two big brothers who wrestled at Apex, including his hero Brent --his oldest brother, there was no doubt about his athletic future.

"It's amazing, I mean, him and I grew up together, wrestling and he came to practices with me and it was a proud moment when he was going to be on the wrestling team," Brent Forsythe said.

However, the beginning wasn't easy.

"At practice I would just...get...smashed," Forsythe said. "It was no match, I had no idea what I was doing."

But meets were a different matter. From his freshman year on, Forsythe was a winner over 80 times --more wins than his brothers. To compensate for his blindness, opposing wrestlers had to keep contact at all times.

"In wrestling a lot of times we'll blindfold wrestle in practice to try to get someone to quit looking and to feel and in a way he had that advantage," Apex Wrestling Coach Russell Duncan said.

His stepfather Keith Adair has a different explanation for all the success.

"He's got a ninja sense," Adair said.

One of the highlights of Forsythe's young life is traveling with his brother to Austria in 2008 for the world sports festival.

"Going out of the U.S. that was, I mean wow," Forsythe said. "Not many people get to do that."

And he won MVP.

"That was when I realized that he's serious about this," Brent Forsythe said. "So that was another one of them, wow."

Wrestling may have been his high school day job, but at home Forsythe's other hobbies include skeet shooting.

"Amazed everybody, he hit them and he hit a bunch of them," Adair said. "I've seen him fish and ride four-wheelers and dirt bikes and he does anything any other kid will do."

Adair has learned the hard way there's no sneaking around his stepson.

"He says he can hear you, if he can't hear you he can smell you," Adair said.

A graduating senior, Tyler is now ready to move onto college. He was turned down by both NC State and UNC, so instead will head off to UNC Greensboro where he plans to become a lawyer.

"I'm definitely going to become the first person in the whole family to get my bachelors and masters degrees," Forsythe said.

"There's so many things he's overcome and he's pushed really hard and we're so proud of him," Brent Forsythe said.

"He continues every day to amaze us," Annette Forsythe said. "The things that he does and how he inspires others. He's an inspiration to us and we know that he's here for a purpose."

Forsythe has also been approached by the U.S. Paralympics Judo Team about maybe trying out with them for a spot in the 2012 games in London.

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