When Ding Ding was born in 1988, birth complications left him with cerebral palsy. At the time, doctors advised his mother, Zou Hongyan, to give up on the baby, saying there was no point in trying and rescue him because he would grow up disabled and with “low intelligence.”
Even his father was convinced by the doctors. He told Zou that the child would be a burden for his whole life, but she was set on saving him and that led to their divorce. To support her son and provide him with treatment, Zou worked three jobs simultaneously.
In her free time, she took her son to physiotherapy and played intelligence boosting puzzles and games with him. She was sure Ding Ding would learn to overcome his disabilities, so she insisted on teaching him to learn how to do even small things, like eating with chopsticks, properly.
“I didn’t want him to feel ashamed about his physical problems,” Zou told South China Morning Post. “Because he had inferior abilities in many areas, I was quite strict on him to work hard to catch up where he had difficulties.”
29 year later, Ding Ding has defied all expectations. He graduated with a degree in environmental science from Peking University in 2011, and went on to do his master’s at the university’s law school. He recently got admitted to Harvard University.
Ding Ding told South China Morning Post that he often misses his mother, who now lives in Jingzhou. He described her as his close friend and “spiritual mentor.” We can only imagine how proud his mother must be to see her son succeed against all odds.