Nightly News | September 07, 2012
>>> the u.s. open tennis tournament wraps up this weekend here in new york. and if you look closely, you may notice something different about just one of the 249 people who scurry across the court, retrieving the tennis balls . ryan mcintosh is a veteran of the war in afghanistan , and now he has taken this high-profile job to make a point. his story tonight from nbc's jenna wolfe .
>> reporter: for two weeks every summer, new york city is the center of the tennis universe. the best players in the game in one of the biggest tournaments, the u.s. open . but this year it's one of the newest faces on court drawing attention. so new, in fact, before this tournament, he had never really been on a court at all.
>> always growing up i would play football. and, you know, that was the highlight of my life.
>> reporter: ryan mcintosh always wanted to serve his country. so he enlisted during college and was soon deployed to afghanistan. but one afternoon on patrol changed his life forever.
>> i woke up about ten feet in the air, you know, with dust all in the air, and my ears were ringing.
>> reporter: just 100 yards from his base.
>> i realized that my toes were gone.
>> reporter: a land mine had blown off his right leg. do you remember the phone call to your wife after you had woken up?
>> yeah, that's terrible. that was the worst phone call i ever had to make, i lost my leg. that was hard because i had to be strong for her but at the same time strong for myself to realize those words were really coming out of my wife.
>> reporter: ryan was also a soon to-be father, and the thought of not being there for his son was overwhelming.
>> i always had my dad, and that was my biggest anchor point was my dad. when hi son was to grow up, i wanted me to be his biggest ankle or the point.
>> reporter: staying anchored, but wanting to keep moving, ryan found out about the chance to work the u.s. hope through a wounded warriors program, and his heart hasn't gone unnoticed.
>> if that's not inspiration, forget the tennis players , but for guys in life. some of the guys that play tennis had that kind of heart, we'd see some more good matches, wouldn't we?
>> to hear ryan 's story, you know, anybody who went through that and came out a better person on the other end, you know, those are the heroes that we should be reading more about.
>> reporter: as for his future --
>> i've just had so much fun with my life so far. and i hope it's everything that i want it to be and more.
>> reporter: a young man making the most of his second chance. jenna wolfe , nbc news, new york.