Isaac Hayes is 42 inches tall and weighs 50 pounds dripping wet.
He packs plenty of punch in a tiny package. There is a black belt around his waist, so please don’t tug on Superboy’s cape.
I’m not sure how many teeth 9-year-old Isaac has in his mouth. If you want to see most of them, though, just ask him about winning a world championship in taekwondo last week in Arkansas.
You are guaranteed to get a grin.
Yes, the little guy came home from Little Rock with some serious hardware.
He sang “We Are the Champions” almost all the way back to Georgia. That’s a 12-hour ride, with a vinyl record skipping in the back seat.
His parents, Brook and Jay Hayes, didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they sang right along with him.
In three weeks, when Isaac starts the fourth grade at Tattnall Square Academy, he will have something cool for show and tell.
Isaac was born on Oct. 12, 2004. He weighed 8 pounds, 9 ounces and was 20 inches long. The specs were that of an average-size baby.
But moments after he arrived by cesarean section in the delivery room, Brook overheard a nurse whisper, “We have a problem in here.”
Isaac was born with a type of dwarfism. His arms and legs were short. His head was larger than average, and his thumbs turned upward like a hitch-hiker.
He spent two weeks in intensive care. Doctors originally thought he might have a type of dwarfism with a life expectancy of under one year.
But by Thanksgiving, when he got to come home, it was determined Isaac had the more common achondroplasia dwarfism, with the ability to lead a more normal life.
Well, as normal as any child could with a name like Isaac Hayes.
Yes, his parents named him after the late soul singer and actor best known for the “Theme from Shaft.”
“We have raised him just like a normal child,” Brook said. “Nothing in our house is adapted for him.”
As a youngster, Isaac proved to be a good little athlete. His parents signed him up for everything from T-ball to golf and soccer.
Then, while all his friends kept growing like crabgrass, he stopped chin-high to a doorknob. It took a lot longer for him to get to the point where he was tall enough to ride the rides at Lego Land.
Soon, team sports became more difficult for him to manage. His diminutive size became a safety issue.
“We started looking for an individual sport,” Brook said. “If you play a team sport and you’re the smallest and slowest, they will pick on you.’’
She contacted “Karate for Kids” on Northside Drive and talked to owner/instructor Charles Wilkerson. She and Jay signed up for adult classes, so it became a family affair.
Over the past four years, Isaac has seen measured progress. Success has helped his confidence and self-esteem. This year, he advanced through the state and district (regional) competition in a division for children with physical disabilities.
When he got to the American Taekwondo Association Tournament of Champions last week at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, he competed in the 13-and-under division for young people with both physical and cognitive disabilities.
In the final round, he defeated a higher-ranked opponent with a third-degree black belt.
(Jay, who competed in the adult “combat weapon” division in Little Rock, also came away with a first-place win. So the Hayes family is having to make room for a pair of world titles under the same roof.)
As he gets older, Brook said, Isaac is starting to notice his classmates are now a head or two taller. She and her husband try to accentuate the positives rather than dwell on the differences.
She has mentioned the topic of dwarfism, although Isaac doesn’t fully understand it. She even sat down with him to watch TLC reality shows “Little Couple” and “Little People, Big World.”
He hasn’t let his size stop him. He hunts and fishes, helps his grandfather in the garden and went parasailing in San Diego earlier this summer.
Brook said Isaac is “low key,” so she doesn’t expect him to spend a lot of time bragging about his world title. It certainly has done wonders for his confidence, though. A pizza party is being planned in his honor at “Karate for Kids.”
I asked Isaac how it made him feel to be a champion.
“Happy,” he said.
It is a joy we share with him.
Contact Gris at 744-4275.