Harsh Thakkar was a high school basketball star hoping to land a college scholarship, but that all changed a few days after Christmas 2005.
He was 19 and walking out of a Silver Spring restaurant when he was shot and robbed. That gunshot left him paralyzed and sent him down a path he never expected.
“There are days you wake up even years later and think is this really my reality,” said Thakkar.
That fateful day is tattooed on his arm and reads: “one life ends another life begins.”
He didn't let a wheelchair slow him down. Nine months later he was back on the basketball court and eventually earned a college scholarship to play wheelchair basketball.
His family had a lot to do with his road to recovery.
“It came from them not giving up on me for me not giving up on myself,” Thakkar explained. And he's not alone.
“Whether it was a car accident, diving accident, or a gunshot wound that changed their lives and impacted it forever. But it brought us together," he said.
MedStar's National Rehabilitation Hospital presents the NRH Punishers: Serious ball players who take no prisoners but are always looking to school someone.
“They have no idea that it encompasses different kind of sport chairs and the skill it takes to actually play this game,” said Thakkar.
Sport chairs that are designed to take a beating and there's no half courting here, these players are at the top of their game including number 42: Bryce Doody who’s heading to the Par-Olympic trials at the end of the month.
“Maybe we didn't envision them this way but we found a way to have an impact on eachother’s lives and the lives of other people,” he said.
So Harsh who works at Medstar, now mentors others who are facing a new reality. His advice, never give up, remember what you can still do, “and last is this is going to be hard, it’s not a walk in the park – pun intended.”
But he said a team sure helps to get your head back in the game because “nobody can do this alone.”
Medstar has several sport rehabilitation teams. The NRH Punishers are raising money to travel to games.
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