Eleven-year-old Isaiah Bingham of Newark sounds like just about any youth football player when he's asked why he prefers playing defense.
"For some reason, I like hitting people."
But with Isaiah, there's more than meets the eye, or in his case, things get complicated once things meet the eye.
Isaiah was born with Bilateral Optic Nerve Coloboma, an eye abnormality in which the optic nerve, which sends messages of what the eye sees to the brain, isn't properly formed.
His mother Dionne said her motherly instincts kicked in quickly that things weren't quite right after his birth.
"I noticed in the hospital -- he wasn't even probably two hours old. As a mother, you look over your children, most moms are like 'he's got all his fingers, he's got all his toes, everything's fine.' Nowadays they come out with their eyes open, like they're looking at you. I'm looking and I noticed that his eyes were not like all my other children's eyes, and he definitely had a different look to him. I called the nurse, she said 'no, he's just born, he's not even two hours old, blah, blah, blah.' I said, 'I hear what you're saying, but I need you get the pediatric doctor to tell me the same thing.' She did come up, and said something was going on, we don't know what, so we found out right in the hospital."
Dionne said she had nightmare scenarios going through her mind.
"The end, as we know it, as far as what we consider natural and normal. There really is no normal. That's what Isaiah has taught us. Everybody's normal is different, this is all he knows, so this is his normal. What you get initially as parents is fear, anger, frustration, blame, self-blame, was there something wrong with my genes? Then you look at your spouse, what's going on here, this is not okay. Then you immediately turn to your attention to the child and say how is he going to grow up, how are we going to deal with this?"
How they dealt with it was going to a series of specialists, including an ophthalmologist in Raleigh, North Carolina.
"The said teach him to use what he has to the best of his ability. Because we found out so early, that's why he's able to have the confidence he has now. Had he not had the services as soon at two months old with them coming in, we would be far behind the 8-ball."
Isaiah is legally blind, but still has about 47% vision. Dionne explained that's a little better than some of his early doctors projected.
"The portion that allows you see, the retina has holes straight through the center. Everything else you can see out of. You might be a little blurry, or have field deficit loss. His peripheral vision is off, he doesn't have much of that at all, but they said he could see some stuff. He proved that as he grew up because we would ask what he could see, can you see this, what color is this? The doctors said he could only see within five feet in front of him, but he can see further, because he points to the sky and sees the airplanes and sees certain cars driving by. Typically he does have to be very close, but we taught him he has to use what he has very early."
Isaiah grew up wanting to play sports, but his doctors suggested a solo sport like swimming.
That wasn't going to work for Isaiah, who wanted to play baseball in the Miracle League of the Triangle, specifically designed for athletes with disabilities.
Dionne had initial concerns.
"He chose that because that's what he wanted to do. It's more natural to allow a child to do something that they want to do, and we knew he wanted to do it because he kept asking. I said no a million times, and his dad said yes a million times. Being a mom, I said no, and I tried to stick with that, but Isaiah kept being so adamant. We taught him not to have limitations, but then when I tried to limit him, he asked 'why are you trying to limit me if I don't have limits?' So I let him try it, and he proved to be really great at it."
How great was Isaiah? Some in the league thought he was a ringer.
"He was actually hitting home runs, and they weren't using the ball that whistles at him. They were using it for just about everyone else. They knew he was legally blind but they couldn't believe it. We basically had to break it down to them and show papers and say he had exactly what we said. He was showing that he had something that his limitations weren't going to stop."
Isaiah took to basketball, helping his first team win a league championship, but then he said he wanted to try football.
In a sport where it would seem 20/20 vision would be imperative, Isaiah was making quick strides, to the point his MOT Football coach wanted to give him a nickname.
"The coach said 'can I call him Vision, respectfully? I want to give him the nickname because his vision is on point,' Dionne recalled. "They said even though his sight is off, his vision is definitely there, he definitely has a vision for the game. That's where the whole name for vision came, and he's said vision is definitely better than sight."
Isaiah would go on to lead his team in tackles, forced fumbles, and sacks, as he played a defensive position near the line of scrimmage to maximize his limited line of sight.
"I play the position nose guard, so I am right over the center. He snaps the ball, and I see when it snaps. My dad taught me that when the ball gets snapped, just go to the quarterback and tackle him, because that's usually who has the ball."
If he brings down the tackler, Isaiah said he'll sometimes go to his celebration dance he started in baseball, which includes a tribute to a former World Wrestling Entertainment champion.
"My favorite wrestler is John Cena, and he does this [waves 5 fingers across his face], meaning that you can't see him. I see things differently than people, but I can do anything."
It's that mindset that allows Isaiah to achieve.
"My eyes, I don't really think it's different from anybody, it's just sometimes I can't see that far, so I have to get closer to something that I have to see."
Like many mothers, Dionne said she's there with uplifting words when Isaiah's challenges get a little overwhelming.
"He would cry every once and a while and say 'I hate my eyes', so it's not always glory. Even now, he'll have that breakdown, and I have to reinstall in him 'no, that's your superpower, you can't hate your superpower, that's like hating yourself.' I said you were made like that, if you weren't born like that, you wouldn't have that superpower. There are sighted people who don't have your vision."
Inspired by a cousin who is in the field, Isaiah's family has even started his own fashion line around called 'Vision 2020', meant to inspire people to focus on what they can see.
"There are a set of eyes on there, they are imperfect. Life doesn't have to be perfect, people need to get the notion out of their head, life doesn't have to be perfect for it to be powerful and impactful."
While he doesn't know if fashion design is in his future, Isaiah said his goal is to play college football in the future, and along with the clothing line, hit others with thoughts like quarterbacks on the field.
"I wanted people to know that they can do anything. I live my scriptures Philippians 4:13, you can do all things through Christ that strengthens you."