Injury: Bilateral Above Knee Amputations and Left Arm Limb Salvage
Military Branch: USMC
Walking through the Iraqi desert, Ray and his team identified and marked two IED’s alongside a bridge crossing. As they waited for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team to detonate the two bombs, Ray began clearing the area when he stepped on a third IED crossing an irrigation ditch. Laying there after flying 45 feet up into the air, he knew he was hit badly, he just didn’t know what the next few years had in store for him.
Ray joined the Marine Corps at the age of 17 because he was ready to start serving. He went through boot camp and all his training during the summer before he turned 18, luckily no one knew, and deployed to Al Anbar, Iraq the following year where he served for 9 months. Ray was deployed again in January 2007, and later injured in combat on June 16th.
The blast left Ray with the loss of both his legs, above the knee, and a left arm reconstruction, loosing all fingers except his thumb. Laying in the rehab center in North Carolina, he didn’t know how to move on until his physical therapist suggested wheelchair basketball. At this point Ray was still in a power chair learning to use his hand. Skeptical, he began playing with other injured marines and began learning the game from an ex-USA Paralympic basketball coach that was brought to the rehab center. Before he knew it Ray had found a new passion in life, began playing competitively and started getting recognized for his achievements in the sport. So much so that he and a couple other fellow Marines were invited to play in the White House while President Obama watched from the stands.
The White House game sparked a debate for why there weren’t any Army basketball players in attendance, and a rivalry between military branches was formed to see who was the best wheelchair basketball team. Little did they know that this competition would extend to all sports and in 2010 turn into the Warrior games. Over the course of the next 5 years, Ray won 2 gold medals and a silver medal, and played in the NWBA on teams all over the country.
In 2014 Ray met David Vobora at a sports training camp for wheelchair basketball and began hearing about Adaptive Training Foundation. Because of his basketball schedule, Ray could not make the commitment to Dallas until he recently learned that his college eligibility was still active and he could continue his basketball career. Ray immediately used this opportunity to enroll at the University of Texas at Arlington and enter ATF’s ReDefine program in preparation to excel in both his academics and athletics. Ray now plans to major in Kinesiology and Sports Leadership/Management and to play for the UTA basketball team as a student athlete.