BYU Graduate and Professional Football Coach Receives Blessings Single-Handedly

Contributed By Spencer Williams, Church News contributor

  • 27 June 2019

Porter Ellett lost his arm in a childhood accident. This life-changing circumstance has brought about a lot of challenges in his life, but he never uses it as an excuse.  Photo by Brad Slade

As a four-year-old, Porter Ellett was in an accident on his family farm in Loa, Utah, that resulted in the loss of ability to use his right arm. Decades later, Ellett is now a Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach in the National Football Leauge and a BYU graduate. And while he considers his loss of limb to be a great challenge, it has never been an excuse.

“It was no excuse on the family farm, where he changed sprinkler pipe, baled hay, and drove a stick-shift,” BYU Magazine said in a feature of Ellett’s life. “Or in sports, where he excelled in high school baseball, basketball, and track. From buttering toast to swimming straight to typing quickly on a computer, Ellett has learned to adapt and to look for the positives in life, lessons he has shared in hundreds of talks as a motivational speaker.”

Following the accident, Ellett couldn’t move his arm, although he could still feel pain. But when his family learned the accident could have proven fatal if he had severed a main artery—which was narrowly avoided—they saw the hand of God in the situation.

“We’ve always felt like it’s a miracle that he was saved,” said his mother, Mary. “Losing his arm was just a minor setback.”

Ellett had many surgeries attempting to fix his arm, all of which were unsuccessful. All the while, he improved his athletic abilities and played sports, developing effective ways to play with one hand. Still, Ellett said his arm would get in the way and hit other people or himself while playing. So ultimately, he decided to get his arm amputated. His only regret, he said, was that he “ended up missing the state cross-country meet that year.”

Ellett’s attitude and lack of limb have been key elements in many of the great blessings, milestones, and accomplishments in his life: He was the state’s 1A baseball MVP as a junior in high school; an article in the New Era highlighted his ability to overcome adversity; his wife, who stood out to him because she was watching SportsCenter, recognized him from that same New Era article; and eventually he was hired by Andy Reid, the Kansas City Chiefs head coach, for a senior assistant coach position.

BYU Magazine reported that in the interview for the senior assistant coach position, Reid listed the job responsibilities and concluded, “Basically you need to be me when I’m not here. Or when I am here, you need to be my right-hand man and keep me going in the right direction.”

Ellett responded saying that wouldn’t be a problem, “as long as you would be OK with your right-hand man not having a right hand.”

Read the full story in BYU Magazine.