Haven Shepherd

The backstory:
Born in Vietnam, Haven lost her legs at 14 months old in a family suicide attempt that killed her mother and father. Haven survived but lost both legs below the knee. She took up sports at an early age, joined Team USA’s Emerging Swim Team at just 12 years old, and won three medals in the 2019 Parapan American Games.

Away from the pool:
Haven is a model for Models of Diversity.

In her own words:
“I always knew I was going to be an athlete because my brothers and sisters were all athletes. The reason why I got into swimming is because I get to take off my legs and really feel free.”

“As an adult I’d like to go into psychology and work with adolescent girls. We’re always being told we need to love ourselves, but you can’t tell 14- or 15-year-old girls to love themselves when they don’t know how to. You need to find yourself first — find out who you are. Then learn to like yourself, and then you can love yourself.”

“I’ve never been insecure about my legs. I actually enjoy not having legs. People always ask me, ‘How are you so happy all the time?’ I don’t really have answers for them.”

Prosthetist: Loren Decker, Decker Integrated Orthotics and Prosthetics

Learn more:
* Team USA
* Challenged Athletes Foundation
* CBS Sports: “We Need to Talk”
* NBC Sports: “Haven Shepherd’s Journey Prompted by Suicide”
* Malala.org: “Haven Sheperd Makes a Splash”
* Friends of Bethany: “Haven Shepherd”
* Video: “Enabled: The Haven Shepherd Story”


Paralympian 2019|

1 🥈


  • Sport: Swimming
  • Limb Difference: Lower
  • DOB: 3/10/03
  • Residence: Carthage, MO
  • Classification: S8/SB7/SM8