Willie McQueen (1986) is a double amputee from Flint, Michigan who gained substantial renown by starting for his school's football team.
Willie McQueen was born to Meltrina McQueen and Willie Bridges on September 6, 1986 in Selma, Alabama. In 1994, McQueen lost both of his legs after a train accident in Birmingham, Alabama. While McQueen was playing with two of his cousins, one of his shoelaces became entangled with the undercarriage of a nearby train, and he was dragged behind it for 50 yards before it came to a stop. As a result of the injuries he sustained, both of his legs were removed just below the hip.
When McQueen reached seventh grade at Southwestern Academy in Flint, he decided to try out for his school's football team. Coach Adrian Phillips was initially skeptical, but he agreed to let McQueen try out for the squad after receiving medical clearance and permission from McQueen's mother. The 3'1" teen started out sixth on the depth chart at defensive tackle, but steadily passed the competition until he ultimately became the starter. A wheelchair user off the field, McQueen propelled himself during game situations by walking on his hands. His quickness and low center of gravity made him difficult for offensive players to block, and he also made a name for himself as one of the team's most sure-handed tacklers.
In an article published by the Associated Press, McQueen cited the San Francisco 49ers as his favorite team, and stated the goals of playing for the 49ers and becoming a coach after graduation. After hearing about McQueen's story, the 49ers flew him and his parents to San Francisco as a guest of the team for the weekend. McQueen met with team players on December 16, 2000, then attended the team's game against the Chicago Bears the next day. Calling McQueen an "inspiration", wide receiver Terrell Owens promised to catch a touchdown for his visitor, then did so and delivered the ball to McQueen after the game. Four years later, former 49ers coach Steve Mariucci brought McQueen as a guest to the practice facility of his new team, the Detroit Lions.
McQueen's story was featured on episode #201 of the television program Ripley's Believe It or Not!, which aired on TBS on September 26, 2001., and on episode #5 of the ESPN2 series Timeless, which aired February 5, 2005. In an interview, Timeless host Dhani Jones cited McQueen's story as one of the two most memorable of the show's first season.
In 2006, McQueen began coaching basketball for an Amateur Athletic Union team in Flint, Michigan.