Lifestyle & Human Interest

'Miracle' Son Wins Gold at Special Olympics After Being Beaten and Left for Dead at Age Two


Joseph Bradley, a high school senior from Alabama, refuses to let his past determine his future.

Bradley, who survived horrific abuse at the hands of his father as a toddler, celebrated his 19th birthday before flying to Abu Dhabi for the 2019 Special Olympics World Games as a member of the United States Equestrian team.

Through tears, Bradley’s mother, Mary Bradley, watched her son win a gold medal in the English Equitation event and two bronze medals in the English Working Trails and Dressage events.

“I was crying tears like a baby — full of joy,” Mary Bradley told the Montgomery Advertiser. “He accomplished what he said he was coming to do.”

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Bradley started riding horses in 2011 at Montgomery’s Therapeutic Recreation Center in Alabama.

The boy’s accomplishments are incredible, as he lives daily with paralysis on his right side, permanent brain damage and loss of sight in one eye.

When Bradley was just 2 years old, a weekend stay with his father landed the boy in the hospital with third-degree burns and a blood clot on his brain.

The helpless toddler had been beaten over the head by his father, dunked in scalding water and hit in the groin.

“At the hospital, they told me to prepare for his funeral,” Mary Bradley told The National.

Doctors told Mary Bradley that if her son lived, he would be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.

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Bradley’s father is currently in prison for first-degree assault. His parole was denied in 2018, the Montgomery Advertiser reported.

Today, the smiling, determined teenager still lives with seizures and bears the mark of skin grafts on his body because of the burns.

But he mounts his horse, enjoys the ride and looks forward to his future.

“He’s my miracle,” Mary Bradley said. “I would never have expected this.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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