“What kept me moving was never going back to where I came from. I wanted people to see more than my injury.”
Noah Galloway is a veteran, fitness expert, and motivational speaker known for overcoming severe injury, addiction, and mental health issues to revitalize his life and those of others. Galloway has shared his story across a wide variety of platforms: appearing on TV, writing a memoir, and holding numerous speaking engagements. He loves to challenge himself and serve as an example to others, which he does by speaking about motivation and success, competing in high-level fitness competitions, and even participating in a season of Dancing with the Stars.
Galloway grew up in Alabama and attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His family had a history of military service, but Galloway did not plan on entering the military. This all changed on September 11, 2001, when planes hit the World Trade Center. The 9/11 attacks persuaded the 20-year-old Galloway to drop out of school and enlist in the army. He went through training, and was shipped off to Iraq with the 101st Airborne in 2003. Galloway found fulfillment in serving: “I enjoyed every bit of it. I spent a year in Iraq living with the locals, on patrol all the time. I was like, ‘This is it. I want to do this the rest of my life.'” In 2005, he was riding in a military vehicle when the front tires hit a trip wire and detonated a bomb. The vehicle went flying through the air and landed in a canal. He woke up six days later, on Christmas Eve, at Walter Reed Hospital, with an arm and a leg missing and his jaw wired shut.
Being a Disabled Veteran
Although Galloway recovered and achieved mobility with help from a prosthetic leg, the years immediately following his military service were plagued with depression and addictions, first to pills, then to alcohol. Determined to change the direction his life was headed in, he turned to fitness. It was a difficult transition, made harder by the fact that Galloway was still getting used to his disability, and was embarrassed to go to the gym. “I joined the 24-hour gym and went at two in the morning, when no one was there,” Galloway said. He progressed quickly, became more comfortable with his body, and began entering fitness competitions. He competed in 5K obstacle races, marathons, and Spartan races. In 2013, Galloway appeared on the MTV show “True Life,” in an episode about people who participate in Tough Mudder competitions, considered to be the hardest of all obstacle-course races. This TV appearance led to more fitness competitions, interviews, and talk show appearances. Galloway’s message resonated with people, especially other veterans: “When I hear their stories, it means so much to me and it gives me drive and purpose,” he said.
In 2014, Galloway appeared on the cover of Men’s Health magazine, next to the headline “Noah Galloway is the 2014 Ultimate Men’s Health Guy.” Following this was a highly publicized appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and in 2015, a third-place finish on Dancing with the Stars. The latter was his highest-profile appearance to date, and although he was reluctant at first, never having done much dancing before, he practiced and performed his way to an amazing finish. In 2016, Galloway published his memoir Living with No Excuses: The Remarkable Rebirth of an American Soldier. When discussing his motivation for writing the book, he said, “Depression is real and I think we’ve come a long way, but it’s still something that if someone hasn’t experienced it, they won’t understand it. I think my book will help people understand and help those who suffer through it to realize they’re not alone.”
Galloway has continued to share his story, working as a motivational speaker and presenting himself as physical proof that no matter what obstacles you face, you can come out on top. In 2016, he revisited his military roots, appearing on the TV show American Grit, leading a team of civilians through a series of military-grade and survival-themed challenges. He emphasizes that everyone has their own injuries, sufferings, and setbacks, and people must not be afraid to confront these issues head-on, or seek help if they need it. When reflecting on his military service, Galloway said, “It was a very important part of my life, but it was a chapter … My story is not done. I will start another chapter after this one, and I will do the best I can at it.”