Some people were born with a silver spoon. Others had to work for it, only to have it taken away, and to have to work for it again. Xander Neff’s story is like the latter.
Physically imposing, athletic, and with more tattoos than most people, Neff is a winner at a first glance. His charm would seem to be just what he needs to get whatever he wants, and if it didn’t suffice, his looks would do the rest. But that’s just a façade.
It’s a well-maintained one, as it’s obvious from the hundreds of hours that must have gone into building and toning that physique. But that wasn’t about being just pretty and good looking. It was about going against the odds and winning, something Neff knows a lot about.
From Humble Beginnings to Getting a TBI
Some certain moments and circumstances define people for life. For Neff, it was the fact that his family wasn’t well off, and that he soon had to learn to pull his weight. By the age of 15, he was already juggling three jobs, doing everything in his power to make his dreams come true.
Having to do farm work, do fast food work, and help run a marina gave him a lesson in sticking to it and powering through the exhaustion. It stayed that way for a while, and it seems his lessons were serving him well. At least they were, until that one fateful day when he was 18.
Neff suffered a traumatic brain injury after a snowboarding accident. It left him paralyzed from the waist down, which means that Neff had to re-learn how to walk. That’s exactly what he did.
Joining the Army and Getting Medically Retired
After getting back on his feet (quite literally,) Neff chose to enter the Service. A year after his accident he was graduating top tier at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri as a 31 Bravo Military Police Man, only to be selected to continue his training in Texas as a Military Working Dog Handler.
After serving a year in South Korea, Neff suffered yet another injury. This time it was his meniscus, which forced him to medically retire even after a surgery that was supposed to fix everything. So, with an Honorable Discharge on his record, Neff once again found himself staring hardship in the face.
How One Instagram Post Turned Everything Around
Leaving the military took its toll on Neff. He moved to Florida and was forced to live out of his car for a while. But the hardworking, never-give-up attitude didn’t leave him for a second, and when he decided to share it on Instagram it went viral and got him a gig with Girls Night Out the Show.
Working on the show opened a lot of possibilities for modeling, from book covers to magazines. Once again, Neff was behind the wheel of his own life, driving in the right direction.
The story wouldn’t have a moral if he stopped there. Neff knows the ins and outs of the business. He knows the pitfalls that await young models, and he’s willing to help them through his own company. Best of it all, however, is that he’s always ready to share his story, its lessons, and the motto that you never, ever give up, no matter the odds.
You can follow Xander Neff on Instagram at @xander.fit.