Tommy Guns Ly aka Bboy Tommyguns (Chinese Vietnamese American) is a Cancer Survivor, an above the knee amputee, professional dancer (bboy a.k.a breakdance), motivational speaker and actor. Born in California, USA.
Early Life : Born September 17. Tommy’s mother was taken away with breast cancer when he was 2 years old. Soon after, he was put into the Foster Care by Social Services when he was around 5 years old.
Breakdancing, Dreams to Travel and Battle : While moving from foster home to foster home, Tommy discovered bboying at age 16. Tommy loved the dance because it was intriguing, full of expressive emotion, and it introduced him to new people and culture. A few months later, Tommy started a dance crew, Undefined Styles, with school friends in California. The founding members were Tommy Ly, Johnie Green, Victor Martinez, and Jesse Castro. Tommy would VHS tapes of other dancers battling overseas and after he would practice vigorously with the hopes of battling(competing) overseas. This is about the time he started dreaming about how to travel the world with dance.
A Battle with Cancer with a Life Changing Decision: A few months after his 18th birthday, he was diagnosed Cancer, Osteosarcoma (a malignant bone tumor), in his tibia of his right leg. Tommy battled cancer for about 6 months with chemotherapy. Midway through his chemotherapy sessions, doctors notified him it was only able to shrink the tumor a little. Doctors then gave Tommy a choice that would change his life. He had to make a decision to amputate his leg or go with bone transplants which might save his leg. Trying to save his leg would result with limited or no use of his leg because the tumor was located very close to vital nerves. It would also limit future activities like bboying that would required high physical impact on on his leg. Doctors explained, if he amputates, he would still be able to achieve important mobilities, like walking and running, with prosthetics. Tommy decided to amputate because of his passion for bboying(break-dancing) and he never stopped thinking about his dream to travel with dance.
Adapt to Anything: Tommy never gave up practicing even during the six months of chemotherapy. There were times when he was too weak to practice because of nausea and muscle loss, but he would still try to go to practice to stretch or just to watch his dance friends. He knew if he stopped practicing, it would be even harder to get back in the shape and get back to the skill level he had already achieved. He would even do conditioning in his hospital bed and bed-side chair after he recovered enough from the chemotherapy. Tommy believes
“if you focus your energy on what you can do and not what you can’t do, you will discover limitless possibilities and your abilities will outshine your inabilities.”
Tommy learned how to move with and adapt to his new body by rethinking his old training habits and by simply trying things out. He figured out the movements that he could do and built on them. He took the fundamental concepts of the dance and adapted it to his new body.
“Anyone can adapt to anything if they use the power of creativity.”
Life After Cancer, Living a Dream Tommy now travels the world as a professional dancer and continues to develop his skills and art.
In 2005, he was officially a member of the legendary crew, Renegade Rockers(EST. 1983). The Renegade Rockers are world-famous with renowned members such as Jazzy Jay, Wicket, Iron Monkey, Roxrite, Kid David, Tony Styles, Bboy Finesse, Naytron, Politix, Blueboy, just to name a few.
In 2007, Tommy help to co-found ILL-Abilities. ILL-Abilities a famous for being a first bboy crew comprised of differently-abled dancers. In short, their mission is to travel the world to inspire people and to spread their positivity with their message
“NO EXCUSES, NO LIMITS”
Since his decision of amputation, he has been invited to France, Japan, Canada, Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Holland, Hong Kong, Ireland, London, Scotland, Turkey. Some Performances: KRS-1(Concert), NBA Goldenstate Warriors(Halftime Shows), San Francisco International Hip-Hop Dance Fest(Theatre Show), Smithsonian(Theatre performance, Speaker, Washington DC), 24 hour TV(Television performance, Japan), Hong Kong(Television Performance, RTHK), John F. Kennedy Center(Speaker, Theatre Performance, Washington, DC), Sadler’s Wells Breakin’ Convention Tour(London, UK), Make A Move Festival(Ireland).
Inspired to Inspire: Tommy is also a motivational speaker. He tells his story about pursuing a dance career even after amputation of his right leg, life as a Cancer Survivor, and about how nothing can stop you from living your dreams. Tommy’s personal motto is
“I AM UNSTOPPABLE”