Meet Jorge Salazar American Marine to Olympian Wheelchair Basketball

At the next Paralympics in Paris in 2024, wheelchair basketball player Jorge Salazar will represent the United States.

He is going to represent the United States at the Paralympics for the first time. Jorge spent thirteen years serving his country as a USA Marine. He stumbled on an explosive device in Afghanistan and lost his lower body.

Jorge Salazar joins the U.S. Men’s National roster after claiming gold at the 2023 Parapan American Games.

Jorge Salazar, a wheelchair basketball player from Delano, California, has joined the U.S. Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team after winning the gold medal at the 2023 Parapan American Games.

The final match of the 2023 Parapan Am Games in Santiago, Chile, was a spectacular display as the USA team defeated Colombia with a score of 81-45. This victory not only added another gold medal to the USA’s collection, but it also earned them a spot in the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris.

The National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) and the High-Performance Team Selection Committee are pleased to announce the final roster for the 2024 U.S. Men’s Wheelchair Basketball National Team. Jorge Salazar has been named to the roster after his performance at the 2023 Parapan American Games.

“Dreams are coming true” Jorge said

Jorge Salazar’s Age, and His Early Years

Jorge Eligio Salazar who is 30 years old was born in Bakersfield, California, and grew up in Delano, California. Salazar is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Corporal who has been awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Jorge Salazar with his Mother
Image: Childhood photo of Jorge Salazar wishing his mother on Mother’s Day (Source: Jorge’s Instagram)

From a young age, Salazar had always dreamed of becoming a Marine, and he was able to achieve that goal. During his time in high school, Salazar was an active participant in various games and sports, and he particularly enjoyed playing basketball in his free time.

What happened to Jorge Salazar in Afghanistan? His Disability

In 2012, when a physical therapist asked Jorge Salazar, a U.S. Marine Lance Corporal if he had ever played basketball, Salazar found it to be a strange question. At the time, Salazar was lying in a hospital bed at the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park.

About three months earlier, Salazar had lost both of his legs above the knees after stepping on an improvised explosive device while trying to lead his fellow soldiers to safety in Afghanistan. Eager to start his rehabilitation, Salazar followed the physical therapist’s suggestion and joined a team of local veterans playing wheelchair basketball, the San Diego Wolfpack.

Jorge is a Family man

Jorge Salazar is a family man. He is currently married to Saerun Salazar, and the couple have been together since 2013. Together, they have four beautiful children.

Jorge Salazar wife and Children
Image: Jorge Salazar with his Wife and Children (Source: Jorge’s Instagram)

Recently, they welcomed a new addition to their family, a baby girl named Laura Salazar.

Jorge Salazar serves his Country in Afghanistan

Jorge Salazar joined the U.S. Marine Corps on December 8, 2008. He completed his basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. After that, he graduated from infantry training and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines at Camp Pendleton. He was deployed once on the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and once to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

On August 10, 2012, during an operation in Kajaki, Afghanistan, Salazar was wounded by an improvised explosive device while trying to help one of his squad members. He was taken to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, where he became part of the Wounded Warrior Battalion.

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Salazar, who was a fire team leader in the 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for valor on June 11, 2013. He had continued to direct the fire of his squad even after his legs were severed below the knee by another IED blast.

After recovering from his injuries, Salazar focused on playing wheelchair basketball, which was a great choice for him as he had already been skilled at the sport during his time in the barracks.

Corporal starting his Career in basketball

Jorge Salazar first joined the U.S. Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team in 2017. That year, he was a member of the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team that won the gold medal at the 2017 IWBF Americas Cup in Cali, Colombia. Salazar was instrumental in helping the U.S. team earn that gold medal.

After that, Salazar was named as an alternate for the U.S. Men’s teams in 2019 and 2020. He was also part of the U.S. teams that won gold medals at the 2022 IWBF Americas Cup and World Championships.

In 2023, the U.S. Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team won the gold medal at the PARAPAN games, and Salazar had an impressive performance.

Currently, Salazar is playing professionally for a team in Spain, on Gran Canaria. As the 2024 Paralympics in Paris is approaching, Salazar and his teammates are training hard to prepare for the tournament.