The wounded warriors who shoot hoops in wheelchairs are good. Real good. “They’re fast in their wheelchairs, it’s like wow,” McLemore says.
And perhaps more importantly, they inspire wounded warriors like McLemore to live life to its fullest, despite their setbacks. “It’s awesome to get out there with people with no legs who still play tough,” McLemore says. “They are getting up and doing stuff with their life.”
A bomb tore through McLemore’s body in Iraq in 2008. The blast left him serious injuries to both knees and damage to his heart. The single father struggled to care for his two young children (shown with McLemore in photo), recover from his injuries and rebuild a life for his family, outside of the military. McLemore and his children ages 4 and 3, now live at the Operation Homefront Village in San Antonio.
There, McLemore and his children are thriving, growing and McLemore is on his way to preparing to try out for the U.S. Paralympic team.
On a whim, he attended a weekend training session with the local paralympic volleyball team to keep a friend company. His friend didn’t make his team but McLemore did. Now, he not only is part of the volleyball team, but he plays wheelchair basketball and has competed in shooting events.
The hard work on the courts, three times a week, doesn’t really help him physically recover. If anything the physical training is painful, he said. The recovery comes in his heart and mind. “I’m on a team again. In the Army we were part of a team and, when we get hurt, we have to leave the team and it makes you feel unwanted and depressed,” he said.
Being part of the Paralympics team changes that. “I have brothers here. I feel wanted again and I love it,” he said.
McLemore has already competed in regional competitions and has earned a stack of medals including, most recently, third place in wheelchair basketball and fifth in volleyball at a tournament in Colorado. His team has just one more year before the Olympic auditions. McLemore says he’s hopeful and is striving to make the team, but at the same time, is enjoying being active again.
“This has shown me that what happens to me don’t have to be the end of me,” he said. “I can keep pushing and keep having fun.”
(by Allison Perkins)