Who is Wesley Hamilton? Wes was born and raised on the east side of Kansas City, MO, where it was difficult for a young African American male to find opportunity outside of the streets. At age 16, he had become too much for his mother to handle (a common lifestyle for kids in his neighborhood), and moved out on his own. At age 22, he became a father to his daughter, Nevaeh.

Two years later, at only 5-foot-4 and 230-pounds, Wes was non-athletic and vastly overweight. As a single father, working full-time, he had just won sole custody of his daughter. But only five days after his 24th birthday (January of 2012), everything changed dramatically. As he was walking back to his car, Wes was shot multiple times, with one bullet slicing through his chest and fracturing a rib. The other entered his abdomen, partially severing his spine, paralyzing him below the waist. He’d never met his shooter.

Wesley Hamilton wearing a light blue polo shirt and a lavaliere microphone while speaking in stage at a motivational speech.

“Wes discovered a way to empower and thus serve himself. That intention more than any other speaks to the person he has become. The beauty of what he does comes first from his ability to speak wit confidence. ‘This is who I AM’.”
Jeff L. Czernicki

Wes knew he had to set an example for Nevaeh. He started a fitness and nutrition regiment, which was completely foreign to him.  Wes learned everything he could about nutrition and developed excellent culinary skills.  In that first year, Wes lost 100 pounds. He felt his transformation had the potential to help others and so he founded a non-profit called, Disabled But Not Really (DBNR).

Wesley Hamilton wearing a dark sport coat and black with subtle white patterning shirt sitting in a dimly lit room looking towards the camera with a stack of motivational books next to him.
Wesley Hamilton stays inspired to help inspire others to achieve their potential.

Wesley Hamilton Transforms Himself & Others

Since then, Wes has spent the past several years being recognized as a role-model in the Crossfit Community, winning several bodybuilding competitions, even being featured in Men’s Health Magazine climbing a rope with his wheelchair. Wes transformed yet again when working with the Fab Five on Season 4 of the Netflix hit show, Queer Eye, who taught him how to be true to himself, leaving him humbled by the experience. In March 2021, CNN recognized Wesley Hamilton as an official CNN Hero. In October 2021, Good Morning America and the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation recognized Wesley’s continued commitment to serving people living with disability by honoring Disabled But Not Really with a very generous donation. This growing recognition has led Wes to share his story with countless others through a successful public speaking career. 

Whether striving and developing through his own resource, or channeling the generous resource offered to DBNR to help others find their highest potential no matter their struggle, Wes proves every day that disability does not define him and need not define anyone else. Wes is a vibrant example of what it means to be disabled… but not really.

I Am

[by Wesleyl and Adapted by Aida Cuadrado Bozzo]

I am the descendants of the free men before slavery, the workers in the kitchen, and the visionaries of the Underground Railroad

I am the smell of Rose’s hotcakes on the stove and Jettis sweet potato pie during thanksgiving 

I am the sound of water flowing down the river with a few hints of urban hip hop, mixed with the vibes of afro beats

I am from the Eastside of Kansas City, Missouri where the light barley shines

I know that black men are learning the power of self love

I dream of unity within the black community 

I bring with me a heart full of empathy 

I hear nipsey hussle music flowing through the wind

I stand for empowerment within the black community and all that I represent!

I try to lead with love and understanding that life is a marathon were just going through the  laps…..

I am the representation I couldn’t find, breaker of my own mental restraints and free enough to own my name 

-Wesley Hamilton