Each adaptive athlete that applies to receive assistance from One More Wave has his or her own unique story. Biggs’ journey is a story of resilience and struggle that’s masked behind his positive attitude towards life, emphasized through his experiences with hardship.
Biggs grew up in Abilene, Texas, where he went to college for a year but realized there were better opportunities for him within the military. In 2003 at 19-years-old Biggs enlisted in the Army as a (21B) Combat Engineer. His first duty station was at Fort Benning, Georgia, assigned to 3rd Infantry Division where he would later deploy with to Iraq from January ’05 – January ’06. “It was a job I loved and I can honestly say I was really good at,” Biggs said. This led to his reenlistment in Iraq extending his service. On his second deployment to Iraq in November 2007 he spent the first month doing route clearance operations to clear roadside bombs or deactivate them.
On December 10, 2007, while at a checkpoint a civilian Iraqi vehicle swerved off the road and smashed into his vehicle. The civilian vehicle was packed with explosives and detonated on impact killing two teammates and wounding the rest inside. Biggs suffered from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), burns from debris in the vehicle, and substantial injuries to his legs.
After being medically evacuated to Tikrit, Iraq, and then back to Germany, Biggs had an extensive road to recovery. He was transferred to the Wounded Warrior Battalion in 2008 at San Antonio Medical Center and began another journey of rehabilitation to regain the ability to walk (as his legs were shattered in the blast). For nearly 4-5 years Biggs bounced between the cycle of surgery and rehabilitation until one physical therapist remarked, “If you continue down this path, you’ll be crippled by 40 unless we take your leg.” This period turned into what Biggs described as his “dark days”. From here his depression led into a drug addiction. “I made a bad transition into civilian life as the rest of the world couldn’t relate to my experiences,” he said. “I wasn’t living the life I wanted to live. I felt that if they took my leg, then things would become better.”
In 2014 Biggs learned to live life as an amputee while struggling with drug addiction getting clean and messing up. In 2017 with the advice of close friends, Biggs checked into rehab in Oklahoma City. He’s been living sober ever since and most recently found a love for wake surfing. Without a background in surfing and no experience, he started on his knees. Soon he was standing and constantly improving day by day – a metaphor to his life. At the time of this interview he stated, “The last wave I surfed was 3 days ago and I’m still feeling high from it,” Biggs said. “I understand what it’s like to be centered in the wave. I’m starting to let my hips go and as an amputee that’s difficult. Life happens between that balance. It’s hard to truly explain the feeling.”
Customized Surfboard Art
While spending time on a lake wake surfing with mentor David Vobora, who runs Adaptive Training Foundation (ATF) in Austin, Texas – a training facility that empowers its members to bridge the gap from basic functional rehabilitation to adapted sports – Biggs wanted a board just like his. “My wakeboard is florescent pink because that’s my favorite color and has the ATF logo on it because that’s important to me,” Biggs said. “It has the quote ‘The skies the limit let’s reach out and touch it’ – because it’s symbolic and helps motivate everyone at ATF. Across the bottom of my board I have ‘Tell me I can’t’ because this was a movement me and my friends came up with as it fits well with other adaptive athletes”.
When not wake surfing, Biggs enjoys training at ATF, where he works out as an athlete but also inspires others with physical disabilities. “There are other amputees at ATF and I am trying to live the best version of myself. As an amputee I have the perspective to give other amputees opinions based off of experience, opinions that those with limbs may not understand.” Biggs hopes to make Austin a home and make wake surfing a hobby, as he continues to thrive in this new journey to surf therapy.