Orlando Pride soccer player Carson Pickett and two-year-old Joseph Tidd have shared a special connection since meeting in April. Even at such a young age, Joseph was able to recognize that he and Pickett were similar — they were both born without a left forearm — and Pickett has since become Joseph's role model.
The skilled defender says that the feeling is mutual.
"Literally within five minutes of me meeting him, we had an instant bond," Pickett told USA TODAY Sports. "It's interesting, though, because for a kid that young, I didn't expect him to connect the way he did. Even though we both have the same arm, it was amazing to me that it felt like he realized why we were bonded."
“Carson knelt down next to Joseph and showed him her arm,” Miles Tidd, Joseph's father, told TODAY Parents. “It was this instant bond we can’t begin to understand.”
While Joseph isn't able to voice what it means to be able to look up to a person who looks like you, a moment captured between the player and the young fan speaks volumes. The photo, taken after a June 1 game against the North Carolina Courage, in which Pickett and Joseph bump elbows, has recently gone viral.
"Honestly the best part of the photo is that it was so real and wasn't planned," Pickett, 25, said. "It was the true pure reaction we both had."
Pickett, who is considered to be one of the best defenders in the U.S., advocates for children with similar experiences as her own with the Lucky Fin Project and is grateful for the chance to inspire them.
“I have the ability to impact a lot of people,” she told The Guardian in 2018. “My parents tell me all the time to use the platform God gave me. I can use my arm for something greater than myself. I’m able to impact so many kids and people who may not see a way out. It doesn’t have to impact them through soccer. To see that I am succeeding in life and happy in life can go a long way for some people.”
"I know I might be seen as [Joseph's] role model, but he's also mine," Pickett told USA Today. "It's just a gift to feel so much emotion from a little boy who understands you in a way other people can't."
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