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Turn on this year’s U.S. Open and among the balls, rackets, and tennis pros, you’ll notice something a little different.
Among the 275 mostly-teenaged ball boys is Todd Reed: a 53-year-old decorated war veteran.
Reed is at the U.S. Open as part of the U.S. Tennis Association’s USTA Military Initiative. He's a grandfather of three, a retired cop, a Green Beret and an amputee who lost part of his right leg in a land mine explosion during Operation Desert Storm.
“I have never let it hold me back,” Reed says of his patriotic red, white and blue prosthetic.
Despite his injury, Reed has a bounce in his step. The ball boys employed at the U.S. Open make eight dollars an hour, plus a daily food stipend. Among their duties: holding umbrellas for players during breaks, fetching iced towels and anything else a player needs.
“And [to be] pleasant with a huge smile on your face while you are doing all of this,” Reed adds. “I have had some challenges in my life that make this easy to work.”
He's the oldest ball boy - ball person, he corrects - in the bunch this year.
“I would never have dreamed that I would be a ball person here,” he says. “I have been blessed in life with so many things.”
Reed hopes to make it to the main court, Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“That would be right up there in top five things that I’ve done in my life,” Reed says.
But main court or not, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for Reed, who hopes to keep the gig for a little while longer.
“As long as the Lord God will give me my health, I would go out on the court and do my job if I can do it,” he says.