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Paralyzed Texas football player learns to paint with his mouth, creating extraordinary works of art

Joe Beene's story is an inspiration. He has defied the odds. After 21 years of being paralyzed from the neck down, he is a thriving artist.

ODESSA, Texas — Every day Joe Beene puts a brush to canvas.

”You throw paint on there, then you carve it out,” said Beene.

Painting is how he expresses what’s inside of him.

"Art comes from the soul. For something to be art, it comes from the soul, and it’s a reflection of the soul," he said. 

He never imagined this is where life’s journey would bring him.

"I played football. I wasn’t an artist, you know, like that was never my thing," said Beene. 

Growing up, football was his passion. He played for the legendary high school team, Odessa Permian, Mojo.

It was made famous by the book and movie, "Friday Night Lights." 

”It wasn’t even on my mind not to play football," said Beene. 

On Nov. 8, 2000, it was Beene's senior year and the team was having its last practice of the season. There was only about 15 minutes left. 

“And I tackled someone and my neck went back. It was a routine tackle. It wasn’t a missed tackle; I didn’t duck my head or anything," he said. 

Beene said it was a freak accident that left him motionless. 

"I wasn’t supposed to live. I went without air for seven minutes.”

The accident left him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breath on his own. 

“They didn’t expect me to live through the night or that week, and they said probably in seven years I would be dead," said Beene. 

That was 21 years ago. 

”You don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone," he said. 

While some people may have given up, Beene finished high school, college, became a personal trainer, and has traveled the world speaking. 

"We attain in life what we pursue. Some people never attain anything because they don’t pursue anything. So, whatever you are going to pursue, is what you are going to attain.”

On his dad’s 60th birthday, he said he found his new passion after having a conversation with God. 

"And I asked the Lord, I said, 'Lord what can I do for my dad, because he turned 60,' and the Lord said, 'paint him a picture.'”

So, he configured some paint brushes and began painting with his mouth.

One of his first paintings hangs on his parent’s living room wall. Several years later, they are true works of art and in great demand.

"All my paintings I pray about. So, the Lord says paint this, and then it goes to the right person," said Beene.

He said he got here because he learned to become mentally and physically fit. He exercises daily using special machines to keep his body strong.

And he said he doesn’t want sympathy.

"I don’t want to be around someone that feels sorry for themselves. I want to be around someone who accomplishes something," said Beene. 

He painted a picture he called “Strength.”

He said every painting has a meaning and he’s not sure what it will look like until it’s done, just like life’s journey. 

You won’t know until you get there.

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