‘Carry On II’ – ESPN updates moving 2009 story of Cleveland friends

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Former ESPN feature producer Lisa Fenn is part of a story being updated on SportsCenter (10 a.m. ET, ESPN2) and Outside the Lines (9 a.m., ESPN2) on Sunday, July 7.

In 2009, ESPN featured two Cleveland high school wrestlers, one blind and one a double leg amputee, who found strength and friendship through their challenges. Fenn, who produced the original piece before leaving ESPN in 2010, became close friends with both young men, Leroy Sutton and Dartanyon Crockett, and has helped guide their lives ever since, as producer Jose Morales and reporter Tom Rinaldi detail in the 20-minute-plus update (one of the longest ever to air on ESPN’s flagship news and information program).

Fenn spoke with Front Row about “Carry On II”:

Was it difficult being the subject instead of the producer?
It was definitely new territory. Whenever I’m working with feature subjects, I’m pretty quick to tell them there’s no need to be nervous or uncomfortable or no need to worry about how they’ll be portrayed. But now that I’ve been on the other side of it, I can understand the concerns more vividly. Not that I don’t trust the people in Bristol but yeah, I felt a little naked just being in front of the camera. . . Also, it was a challenge to be natural when I knew kind of what answers the producers were looking for and what sound bites they needed to make the piece work because I’ve been on that side of it as well, so it took me a short time to just let go of my producer brain and allow myself to be natural within my own story. Once I did that I was more free to enjoy it.

What was it like working with a former colleague?
Jose and I sat across from each other in the office for at least five years so we know each other’s work very well, and we know each other as people fairly well. I did feel comfortable handing over my material and my story to Jose after working across from him for so many years, I know how talented he is and what manner of vision he has and also the delicacy with which he handles his own stories as well, so I knew that I was in good hands.

Did you ever feel that you were wrestling with the belief that journalists shouldn’t get involved in their stories?
A little bit but this story was completely different than any other I have ever produced. I’ve done stories about individuals, about moments, about events, but I had never done a story about a friendship, and what I came to learn is that in order for a friendship to appear natural on camera, I kind of had to become a part of it so that I could just be part of the ebb and flow. It’s impossible to say ‘OK, now be friends on three, roll cameras!. . . Now be funny. . . Now be warm.’ It’s impossible to intentionally capture all of the dynamics and moments that make a friendship work without being part of it. So as my relationship with Leroy and Dartanyon evolved and I got to know them better I was able to be part of their jokes and part of their language and that was a catalyst for how our relationship grew. And it was also the most effective means of making them comfortable on camera so their relationship could be natural on camera and viewers could feel like they were part of it as well.


  1. What an awesome story! Yes, Lisa is an angel. These to young men are truly men. Every young person should see their story. WOW!

  2. I didn’t see the original but this story made me cry and cheer!!! I was so moved and inspired!!!

  3. Wow! Lisa. Your truly an angel. Your love is felt & seen in your story. It was truly heart felt & touching. Bringing tears to my eyes. It just shows the strength in care & concern that you gave that gave those young men purpose for their life’s. you are such a beautiful soul. God bless you always.

  4. Lisa is the real deal! Clearly, there is not just one way to make a family. DNA is just a technicality!

  5. What an absolute angel. She deserves a Nobel prize to me for her kindness to both of them. What a touching story.

  6. Lisa inspires me to be the person she is in life. Understanding the struggles and being apart of helping others is what life is all about. Inspirational women <3

  7. WOW!!! Lisa fenn what a wonderful,incredible women you are…… I wish that we would have more people like you in the world. Your AWSOME!! And keep on doing what your doing…. You are changing people’s life’s just buy watching this inspiring 20 min show. I hope that people see this show and start doing the same! There’s a lot of kids out there that have dreams and aspirations and all they need its a little help a little push just to lead them in the right direction….. Keep on HELPING Lisa your an angel of GOD sent here to HELP!! Thanks for inspiring me…

  8. May we all be moved by Lisa’s reaction to being touched by these two young men so far removed from her world @ the time! She was clearly blessed herself by blessing these young men! Thank you for sharing this story it has touched our family incredibly! Hpw can we help others in this manner?!

  9. I teach 12-14yr. olds and everyone should bear witness to this story of these two young men and the challenges they faced and have overcome. This is a life long teaching moment of determination and love, Lisa thank you for your determination to get their story out!

  10. I thank GOD that HE in HIS infinite wisdom created such a MAGNIFICENT person as Lisa Fenn then assigned her to produce this story. The young men are remarkable examples that ALL things are possible through CHRIST because HE sustained them and paired them with the angel HE prepared – LISA. I pray for continued BLESSINGS for them all.

  11. Not many things bring tears to my eyes, but this one did. I’m not sure what moved me more – Lisa and all that she has done, or Leroy and Dartanyon and the heart and soul that they have shown through everything.

  12. As an ESPN viewer, I am grateful you showed the story on Lisa Fenn and the two boys from Cleveland. That was truly inspiring! Although we sometimes see our sports figures as hero’s, I cant for the life of me think of one better than Lisa Fenn. Lisa, you are my hero! And if I was given a chance to meet anyone who has ever been on ESPN, I would pick you! I watch the top ten every single night and tonight, your play should have number 1 as I have never seen anyone who deserved it more!

  13. Absolutely incredible! Wow Lisa, you’re impact on those boys’ lives and on all viewers is amazing. You’re a person who everyone should look up to. Well done, well done!

  14. Lisa, I’am lost of words I wish you and your family the best.You are an insperation.You are a TRUE ANGEL.

  15. Thank you for sharing this story. So much negative information is being distributed in the media. This story gives me hope and confirmation that human spirit is alive and there is common ground that brings all races together. Thank you Lisa, I needed this

  16. There isn’t much that makes me ugly cry, but this was one. And I am dying to watch part 2 of Carry On, but I can’t watch it in Canada. Can someone please send me a link that can be seen here?

    We toss around the word hero quite liberally sometimes. These 3 people are worthy of the title.
    I love this story, I love these people. I am now a fan of ESPN for bringing it to us.

  17. How do I receive or purchase a copy of this story? I am a college coach and this is a great story to show to my teams over the years. Maybe on a Team Building outing or on the bus.

    All these stories should be made available.

    Thank you,

  18. Espn and Lisa thanks for this story. I’m from the inner-city but now I’m a 33 yr old man handling my business. I must say this story made a cold-hearted young man lost for words and tears. I seen the 1st and the follow up and right now I can’t stop crying…Only God’s Angel’s does what Lisa did..Lisa I hope the best you and your family! Because Carry On changed my life forever!!!


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