Battling Bruin: Matt

Posted October 2015

Although he has only been an official Bruin for a few weeks, Matthew Tapia has already shed a ray of inspiration onto the UCLA campus. Born three months premature, Matt was a mere one and a half pounds; only as big as his father Rudy’s hand. At only nine months old, Matt received open-heart surgery and was told that he had a five percent chance of survival. The doctors believed that if he were to survive, he would never walk or talk again. He was predicted to remain in a vegetative state; however, he had a will that kept him alive and led him to exceed these expectations. Matthew refuses to accept that he is anything but normal and goes through his life normally with a sense of optimism that is inspiring to all.

His senior year at Santa Monica High School, Matt decided that he wanted to join the football team. Without hesitation and with great enthusiasm, he was accepted onto the team. Matt’s determination and dedication to the team was an inspiration to his teammates and anyone who met him. At every practice, he was an encouragement to anyone and everyone on the field. As they saw Matt practicing, running sprints, and improving, they were motivated to work that much harder. With his actions, Matt proved that they could also do anything they put their minds to. After playing in two football games as fans watched with tears in their eyes, Matt joined both the basketball and baseball team. His warm spirit brought light to whatever he did and brought a positive attitude to competitive sports.

Matt’s inspiring story has not gone unnoticed. He was featured on many websites including People and the Los Angeles Times, and viewers all over the world have shared his documentary. These viewers include many NFL players and the head football coach at UCLA, Jim Mora. After watching the documentary Coach Mora contacted Rudy, a UCLA alumnus, and announced that he wanted Matt to be a part of the football program at UCLA. He was immediately inspired by his drive and determination and believed his character could bring a lot to the team. Since the start of season Matt has not missed a single practice. Both Matt and his dad moved from Santa Monica to Westwood Village to be conveniently closer for both school and practice. Matt was accepted in the program with open arms and immediately made friends with the other students on the team. He is just as hard working and determined as the other members of his team, which pushes them to work even harder.

After UCLA, Matt dreams to become a sports announcer. After hearing this, Mora plans to introduce Matt to his connections at Fox, and do everything he can to make his dreams come true. Time and time again, Matt proves that the impossible is never impossible, and that with enough work and the right attitude any dream can become a reality. The UCLA Spirit Squad looks forward to cheering on Matt from the sidelines and is enthusiastic to watch him grow and continue to move others.

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