Back in May, we launched the Spartan Spirit Awards to celebrate the people who truly embody the key Spartan values: grit, determination, and perseverance. Whether they’re a leader on the course or within their community, a relentlessly hard worker, or a passionate advocate for others, our award winners show what it really means to be a Spartan. Today we recognize young athlete Miles Taylor as our latest Spartan Spirit Award recipient.
The video that made Miles Taylor famous starts with a blast of rock music in a Maryland gym and a moment of anticipation as Taylor prepares to deadlift twice his own body weight.
Taylor grunts and the bar lurches upward, and the crowd immediately hoots in support. You can hear voices cheering off-camera as Taylor’s longtime friend and weightlifting coach, Nicolai Myers, starts hollering words of encouragement. “Go, go, go, go! Get your hips through it!” The bar inches higher. Suddenly, a rush of other gym-goers scrambles out of the back to watch the commotion, and the cheering grows louder.
When Myers gives the signal that Taylor has cleared the lift (“Down!” he yells with a wide smile), Taylor drops the bar with a forceful metallic thunk and leaps into his coach’s arms. It’s a moment worth celebrating; Taylor, who has cerebral palsy and weighs just 99 pounds, has just lifted 200 pounds.
Miles Taylor Goes Viral
Little did Miles know, this moment would thrust him into the national spotlight. Since his deadlift video went live on his Instagram in February, it's been viewed more than 800,000 times. The video drew praise from NFL superstar J.J. Watt as well as bodybuilding icon and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who declared "I have a new hero." Taylor even announced the NFL Draft third round pick for his hometown Baltimore Ravens on national television back in April after the team watched Taylor’s video.
It’s been a whirlwind of a year so far for the 24-year-old man from Westminster, MD. But for Taylor, the attention has all been welcome, and good for a greater cause.
“None of this was planned. I just posted a video and the right people saw it,” Taylor says. “I’m just so happy to inspire people and bring my disability to the forefront, and to show people that even though I have a disability, I’m still able to overcome the obstacles.”
About a year-and-a-half ago, Taylor reconnected with Myers, fell in love with weightlifting, and never looked back.
“We gave him some medicine balls, and those medicine balls turned into a 73-pound concrete Atlas stone,” Myers told the Baltimore Ravens team website earlier this year. “And that turned into deadlifts.”
Since his deadlift video went viral, Taylor has upped his deadlift max to 205 pounds.
“When I started, I could barely stand up and do a deadlift,” Taylor says. “But now I can basically do it on my own without anyone helping me at all.”
The Next Challenge
Miles Taylor’s latest challenge: competing in Spartan's Washington. D.C. Sprint Weekend in late June. When Spartan reached out to Taylor about competing in a race earlier this year, Taylor eagerly accepted the challenge—even though he’s never competed in an OCR race before. To prepare, he started conditioning regularly and recruited the support of Myers to help him through the course.
“I’m always up for a challenge. I just want to see if I can overcome the obstacles; the rope climb, jumping in the mud, and all that stuff. I’m really excited,” he tells us before the race. “My one goal is not to quit. I’m ready to test my will, so go ahead and put me through it. No matter what I do, I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities. I’m giving 120 percent.”
Though Taylor has participated in Special Olympics events over the years, Spartan racing is a new challenge—and one that seems to be a natural fit, as he continues to make a point to push his personal limits.
WATCH NOW: Overcoming Obstacles With Miles Taylor
Think you know someone who deserves the Spartan Spirit Award? Nominate them! And remember, each month we’ll be spotlighting new honorees across Spartan.com and our social channels.