Guitarist overcomes loss of hands

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - At age 23, Michael Rose lost both hands in a freak industrial accident. For many, that would have been "soul shattering," but not for Michael.

Since the accident, he taught himself to play guitar, just released an album - and Friday, he leaves for New York for an audition on "America's got Talent."

Chesterfield's Michael Rose bills himself as the world's greatest "no hands" guitar player, but to fully understand his struggle, we have to start at the beginning. Back in 1986, in Pell City, Alabama, working at a metal fabricating plant, Michael was assigned a machine  a Cincinnati hydraulic metal shear - a foot pedal activates the blade

As he was cutting rebar, "The bar bowed, and when it bowed - I had so much pressure on it - that I went forward, and when I went forward my foot went down and activated the blade and chopped both of my hands off - at the same time," said Michael.

For Michael, it was the beginning of a long period of depression.

"I lived 23 years with hands, and then, all of a sudden - in the blink of an eye - everything I knew for 23 years, was over," said Michael.

His wife Kelly says, even after Michael came to terms with the loss of his hands, the stares in restaurants or awkward and sometimes openly rude questions were a constant reminder.

"'Mommy, daddy, what happened to his hands, what happened to his hands?' The adults I'm not so forgiving. I don't necessarily confront them, but we give them a look back - and go on about our way," said Kelly.

With a guitar pick tightly wedged into the top of his metal hook, Michael can strum the strings with the prosthetic, and with his stub, work the fret board on his lap.

In his "man cave," with a guitar in his lap, this is his best time of his day. Even though Michael owns other, more attractive prosthetics, for him, this is the only way to go.

"For me, the hook has always been the go to," said Michael. "Anything I need to do, that will take care of it."

Michael leaves for New York Friday, for an audition with the producers of the NBC hit show "America's Got Talent." And win, lose or draw, Michael will be satisfied, because while the loss of his hands has been an impediment, it's never been a disability.

"I can tackle anything, from mowin' the grass, threadin' a needle, to playing guitar," said Michael.

We'll let you know how Michael fares at his "America's Got Talent" audition.

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