camp pendleton

Department of Defense: Wounded Warriors Guard Their Baskets

10th Annual Marine Corps Trials bring Wounded Warriors to Camp Pendleton

NBCUniversal, Inc.

“Oh yeah, yeah. He’s definitely very stylish.”

It might be one of the best compliments a basketball coach can give his point guard. It’s a pretty easy one to give when your point guard’s face is adorned with a Rollie Fingers-Esque mustache that curls up on both ends.

“It looks pretty scary!” laughed Coach Jaime Baltazar while looking at Donald Burns’ mustache.

“21 years of repression allowed to come out all at once,” exclaimed Burns who served 21 years as a clean-cut U.S. Marine before retiring as a Master Sergeant.

“Adaptive sports have been everything for my recovery,” said Burns who battles PTSD and is recovering from several injuries.

Burns is the point guard on a wheelchair basketball team that competed in the 10th Annual Marine Corps Trials at Camp Pendleton. 

The weeklong event brought together roughly 250 Wounded Warriors from around the U.S. and from several countries to compete in sports like swimming, powerlifting, and wheelchair basketball. 

The best-of-the-best can advance to the U.S. Department of Defense Warrior Games or the Invictus Games created by Prince Harry in England.

“I get a lot out of it as well,” said Baltazar who coaches from his wheelchair. “I just want to share the same sport that helped me recover.”

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