Battling Bruin: Ezra

Posted December 2014

Bruin at Heart

Ezra Frech, 9 years old, has been raised in blue and gold. Ezra comes from a long line of Bruins, including his grandfather, H.E. Frech III (Ph.D. ’74), uncles Justin (’04) and Michael (’08), and father, Clayton (M.B.A. ’98). He lives near campus and has spent many afternoons working out at Drake Stadium with his coach, former UCLA track coach Chris Asher, and skateboarding through campus. Fortunate for Bruins, UCLA is already on Ezra’s short-list of preferred universities!

Medical Story

Ezra was born with congenital limb differences, lacking a left knee and left fibula, and missing fingers on his left hand. From day one, he was a happy and healthy baby and toddler. At 11 months, when he started to pull himself up to stand, he received his first prosthetic leg from Shriners Hospital Los Angeles. He quickly learned to walk on his prosthetic leg and has been unstoppable ever since.

When Ezra was two and a half years old, he had surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital to remove the lower, non-functioning part of his left leg, and to transplant a toe from the amputated foot to his left hand. By creating a more streamlined residual limb, he was able to fit better fit in prosthetics, including a cheetah running leg, which he has had since he was four years old. The cheetah leg also made it easier for run and play sports with the able-bodied kids. The toe-to-hand transplantation was important because it gave him a second finger on his left hand that allows him to hold things. Ezra had a follow-up hand surgery when he was 5 years old to help improve the functionality of his left hand. Needless to say, he has battled through hundreds of hours in Occupational and Physical Therapy to improve and optimize the functionality of his left hand.

Sports Story

Since he could crawl, Ezra has always loved sports. When he was a six to eight month old baby, he loved sitting down and passing balls back and forth. Basketball has been his primary passion since he was a year old. In fact, he initially learned to count by twos instead of ones by watching the scoreboard during Laker games. Getting his first basketball hoop at one and a half years of age, Ezra developed excellent shooting form and would constantly work on his game. He could frequently be seen in the backyard doing laps around the backyard to build endurance, refining spin moves and working on his shot from all spots on the court.

He has played in basketball leagues since he was 4 years old. Ezra has also played baseball, soccer and flag football. This fall he is the starting QB for his school’s flag football team and looks forward to competing for his school in basketball and soccer later this year. Ezra has his blue belt in karate and last year he learned how to skateboard, which is an extremely challenging sport for an above knee amputee. He has also been surfing a few times (and he loves it!) and he wants to learn to snowboard this winter.

In the summer of 2013 Ezra began competing in track and field events, including The Endeavor Games in Edmund, Okla., The Shoe City Invitational in Cerritos, Calif., the Desert Challenge Games in Mesa, Ariz., and most recently the National Junior Disability Championships (NJDC) hosted at the University of Iowa in Ames. At each of these events he has set national records, culminating in seven national track and field records set at NJDC in 2014.

Well Rounded

Ezra is an extremely well rounded student-athlete. He gets good grades in school and actively participates in school leadership, theatre and musicals. He has learned to play the guitar and is now writing and recording his own music. Ezra has two awesome younger brothers, Gabriel (5 years old) and Elijah (2 years old) and a large extended family that supports him to the fullest. Since Ezra was 1 year old, he has been the inspiration behind for Team Ezra, which has raised over $400,000 for a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Shriners Hospital, Camp No Limits, and Prosthetic Outreach Foundation. Since Ezra was 4 years old, he has spoken at schools, bringing his message that “being different is OK” and raising awareness and understanding for the physically challenged.

More recently, Ezra was the inspiration behind The Angel City Games, a multi-sport competition for physically disabled children, adults, wounded warriors, and elite athletes. This will be an annual celebration of adaptive sports, with track and field and swimming competitions to be held at UCLA from June 19-20, 2015! Join Team Ezra on Facebook for more information and updates on The Angel City Games!

The UCLA Spirit Squad is so very proud to present this month’s Battling Bruin, Ezra Frech. He is truly an inspiration to us all!

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