Adonis Watt sits at a table in his Ahwatukee home and gently touches the pages with his fingers.
He traces the portrayal of his football life at Phoenix Brophy Prep in Marvel’s first Braille comic book, part of the new Hero Project. His episode is called, “Unstoppable Adonis.”
“We see the high school football field buzzing with activity,” Adonis reads. “A sign on the left is ‘Football tryouts.’ … A nerve-wracking moment is occurring across the country on thousands of fields just like this one. However, one player makes it feel different than all others. We get closer and see a play about to happen. Adonis is lined up behind the quarterback, wearing his helmet and jersey 45. The quarterback leans in and receives the snap. Hut-hut. Adonis takes a handoff from the quarterback and bursts through the hole with the ball. He cradles the football in his right hand, left hand outstretched in front of him. … Adonis runs away from two defenders. … Adonis spins away from a tackler, holding the football with his right hand in the air, away from the defenders. Another pursuing defender lunges at his legs but behind him. Last frame shows a shot from the goal posts, a camera high with Adonis crossing the goal line. Adonis is holding the ball in perfect form with two hands tight to his body. Touchdown. … He wants to play running back more than anything in the world. … What makes this player different than anyone else across the country? … Close up shot has Joe handing Adonis water. Joe says, ‘Amazing run.’ Adonis says, ‘Thanks for the compliment and the water, Joe.’ ‘Adonis, you excited for tryouts?’ …. Joe looks nervous. Adonis places a hand on Joe’s shoulder. Joe says, ‘I’m nervous, Adonis. I don’t know how you do it. You can’t even see the field. … I’m not going to make the cut.’ Adonis says, ‘Relax, man, the key is to be calm.’ … Adonis uses instincts. A close up of a hand reaching for his jersey, and Adonis hears and feels everything. ‘I feel defenders graze my jersey, but it’s too late.’ Adonis stands triumphantly in the end zone. The football raised in his left fist in the air. Adonis says, ‘I made it. I feel the goal line, I sense the goal posts.’ Joe’s face peaks into the panel. He is amazed. Adonis faces him and smiles back. Joe says, ‘You can feel all that happening. It’s like some sort of super power.’ Adonis says, ‘No, Joe, it’s just me, seeing with everything I’ve got. You can do it, too.’
Since Watt, a 6-foot-2,160 pounds sophomore running back, ran for touchdowns in freshman football games at Brophy Prep, his story has skyrocketed. It’s gone national. Everybody, it seems, wants to do a documentary on him.
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald paid a surprise visit to Watt this football season at Brophy.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, moved by Adonis’ story — losing his vision completely when he was 5 and yet moving full-speed ahead towards his goal of becoming an NFL running back — arranged for Watt and his family to come to New York to address the team this month.
Disney called the family, saying they wanted Adonis to be part of a new Marvel Hero streamline series, searching for inspiring kids.
Selecting Adonis was a no-brainer.
“We were not searching for athletes at all,” said John Hirsch, executive producer of the Marvel series. “We were searching for inspiring kids. Adonis really fits into that category. We have 20 kids for the series. The kids we have are all completely different. Different walks of life, different causes. We wanted to select kids who had that extra something that really would inspire so many other people.
Hirsch said Watt wasn’t selected because he is blind.
“Adonis helping the visually-impaired community and the attention is great. It’s a phenomenal family,” Hirsch said. “That’s why we did this story about Adonis. It was an important thing for them to do to make this comic book for him and other visually-impaired kids and families. It can be a communal experience. It took a lot of time and effort to make it right, to get a full flavor. He truly is a superhero.”
Adonis Watt doesn’t view himself as a hero.
“I tell Adonis, ‘Don’t you ever wake up and go, ‘Yeah! Awesome! Wow!,’ ” Veronica Watt, Adonis’ mom, said. “He says, ‘No, Mom.’ I say, ‘Don’t you feel like you’re doing amazing things? You’re helping people. You’re inspiring people.’ He says, ‘No, Mom, every mom thinks their baby is beautiful. You’re doing too much.’
“No, I’m not that proud mom. They go to him and they say they’re inspired. I say, ‘They’re inspired, I promise.’ He says, ‘OK, Mom, you’re proud of me.’ He doesn’t see himself as a hero. He gives autographs but he doesn’t see himself as a big deal. He doesn’t like to do interviews and he doesn’t like to be on camera, because he’s talking about everything he’s done. He says, ‘I can’t be talking to people what I’m doing. I haven’t even gotten started. But I feel like he’s a pioneer. I feel like somebody’s got to be the first one. Why not him?”
Watt is grateful for being part of Marvel’s new hero project. But it surprises him.
“It’s just being recognized for things I do every day,” Watt said. “It’s not like I just started doing stuff like this. I’ve been doing things.”
It’s been that way since he was 5 dreaming about being an NFL running back.
He was in the pool, submerged, and came out blind, his mom said. He underwent 11 surgeries. Finally, Adonis said, “Stop”. This is who he was. He was blind, he told her, and to let him be blind and live his life.
Adonis, diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, was ready to play football. Give him the ball and let him run.