Disability doesn't derail Clay Dyer's passion for fishing
For nearly two decades, Clay Dyer has been a professional bass fisherman. His dedication and love for the water isn't unlike his peers, but what is unlike his peers is what sets Dyer apart from anyone else on the water.
"I was born without any lower limbs, no arm on the left side and a partial arm on the right," said Dyer. "My whole life I've been told what I can't do, but I'm here to tell you what I can do."
What Dyer can do is fish. Growing up in the small town of Hamilton, Alabama, Dyer has always been attracted to the outdoors. It was at his grandfather's farm where he developed a passion for fishing. Not only did he find something that he loved, but he found something that he wanted to make a career out of. He became a professional angler in 1995 and fished in the "major leagues" on the FLW Tour for four years. Today, Dyer is sponsored by Mercury Marine and currently fishes the Bassmaster Open Series.
"The first time I told him he couldn't do something, he proved me wrong," said Kim Dyer, Clay's wife of three years. "He is bigger than that wheelchair."
"I've always wanted to be a professional athlete," Dyer said. "I got my first boat at 14 and never looked back."
Dyer says he is constantly driven to prove people wrong. When he's not fishing, he's coaching. During football season, you'll find Dyer on the sidelines at Hamilton High School in Alabama where he serves as the team's special teams coach.
When someone asks how he does what he does, it takes only a matter of seconds to understand that it's not about the "how," it's about the "why."
"As much as I want to win on the tournament trail and break records, to me, when you help others and help the world be a better place, that's what life is all about," Dyer said.
So how does he do what he does? For Dyer, it's pretty simple actually.
"I wedge my fishing rod between my neck and shoulder," said Dyer. "Once I cast the line, it's just fishing, like anyone else. I don't look at it as if I'm handicapped, I look at it as if you have faith and you believe, you can accomplish anything."
That faith Dyer has on the water is because he has partners around him who are reliable and dependable. That means his boat and engine must be on-point.
"Competing at a level, I wanted something that I could believe in and depend on," Dyer said. "Not only that, but in my 19 years of fishing, I've always said I've wanted my partners to believe in my vision to make the world a better place. Mercury has always been that company."
Turning what many call disadvantages into advantages, or disabilities into abilities, Dyer has shown the world that no obstacle is too big to prevent him from doing what he loves and preaching his mission, "If I can, you can."
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