UTA Signs Blind USC Football Player Jake Olson (Exclusive)
Having lost his vision to retinoblastoma as a child, Olson is an inspirational speaker and author.
UTA has signed athlete, inspirational speaker and author Jake Olson, The Hollywood Reporter has exclusively learned.
The Huntington Beach, California, native was diagnosed with retinoblastoma at eight months and lost his left eye two months later. At age 12, the cancer claimed his other eye and he had to have it surgically removed. Through it all, Olson was a passionate fan of football, particularly the USC Trojans. After playing as a long snapper for Orange Lutheran High, he enrolled at USC (where he is a business administration major) and walked on as a reserve during his freshman year in 2016.
The following year, he made history as the first fully-blind athlete to play in a college football game. He took the field Sept. 2 in the season opener against Western Michigan and snapped on an extra point. It was good.
Olson's story was chronicled by ESPN reporter Shelley Smith in the E:60 segment "Fight On," which won the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Long Feature last May. Now 21 and a redshirt junior, Olson is an inspirational speaker who has taken the podium at events for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Dick Vitale's V Foundation for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society. He already has authored two books, My Life With Cancer Holding Jesus' Hand (which he wrote at age eight) and Open Your Eyes: 10 Uncommon Lessons to Discover a Happier Life (age 16).
In middle school and high school, Olson partnered with golf apparel company Travis Matthew to develop a braille golf shirt, and this year they will reteam for another braille clothing line to benefit Olson's preferred charities. His own Out of Sight Faith foundation raises money to buy equipment and technology to help visually impaired children in school.