In 2007, an improvised explosive device explosion in Aloos, Iraq, left Marine Sgt. Christopher Lawrence with life-threatening injuries, a severely injured left arm and a badly mangled right leg. In 2008 Lawrence made the decision to have his injured leg amputated and was told that he might never walk again without assistance.
Now, he is about to achieve his lifelong dream of becoming a cop.
On June 23, 10 years after the blast, and nine years after he lost his leg, Lawrence will be sworn in as a police officer with the Chula Vista Police Department in southern California, according to a press release from the department.
The Challenged Athletes Foundation Operation Rebound celebrates Chris Lawrence, who graduates 6/17 from the police academy as a CVPD Officer pic.twitter.com/q63PrqiGAq
— Chula Vista Police (@ChulaVistaPD) June 14, 2017
“I always looked up to them and thought about becoming an officer after I got out of the Marine Corps, that’s something I would do,” Lawrence said in a June 21 interview with a local Fox News affiliate. “I wouldn’t have ever guessed nine, 10 years ago when I got injured that I would be achieving this.”
Lawrence’s road to recovery was hard, including dozens of surgeries and a skin graft the length of his left arm, and he’s had to slowly learn to walk again. But after medically retiring from the Marine Corps in 2010 following five years of service, Lawrence began building his body back up through a strict workout routine, which included cycling, running, and boxing. It was after he knocked out an opponent in the ring that he realized he wouldn’t be hindered by his injuries.
Though Lawrence had a few false starts with joining the force — his application was rejected from a few different agencies due to concerns over physical limitations — he stuck with it, according to an NBC News affiliate in San Diego. He enrolled at the Southwestern Police Academy in Chula Vista, to show prospective agencies he was up to the task. Lawrence flew through the course, impressing his peers and potential superiors.
“I have never met a more abled-body person in my life,” Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said in the June 15 statement. “The power of his attitude and character, and the strength in his heart easily overcome the physical challenges. His life and the challenges he has overcome are an inspiration to others.”
In May, another Marine veteran, Matias Ferreira made history when he became the first double amputee in the U.S. to become a police officer.
Following the swearing in ceremony Lawrence will begin field training immediately.