USATT Celebrates the Life of Paralympians Sebastian De Francesco and Anthony Lara
by Barbara Wei
USA Table Tennis honors Sebastian De Francesco, a true inspiration, not only in table tennis but in life. A veteran of the Army and a Green Beret, Sebastian lived a vivacious life full of service. A Vietnam war accident led to a new life as a quadriplegic, but he turned that experience into disability advocacy, business development, sports training and table tennis dominance.
A 4-time Paralympian in table tennis, Sebastian competed in the '88, '92, '96 and '2000 events, winning Bronze in '88 in the Team event. In 2015, he competed at the Parapan American Games in Toronto in 2015, at the age of 63, after a life-saving liver transplant. Sebastian's determination, service, grit and legacy, as a father, husband, and table tennis enthusiast will endure with the USA Table Tennis community for years to come.
Anthony “Tony” Lara is a dual sport athlete in Para Tennis and Para Table Tennis. Born with Spina Bifida, Tony spent his life committed to wheelchair sports. A well-known wheelchair tennis coach, Tony earned the Angel City Sports Foundation Coach of the Year award in 2017. He is also the founder of the One More Push Foundation, focused on wheelchair sports. Also an active table tennis player, Tony seamlessly transitioned between the two sports.
Tony was a member of the US Table Tennis team for the Para Pan American Games in 1999, the Paralympic games in 2000 and the World Championships in 2002. His smile and outgoing demeanor made him a wonderful role model to kids, many of whom took up wheelchair sports because of him. USA Table Tennis honors his contribution to the sport and his unwavering dedication to the growth of wheelchair sports.