Still, Baldonado, a native of Colombia, knows how worse the shootings — and his life — could have been.
He was shot only a couple of blocks from a major city hospital with a trauma unit, which meant he was being cared for within minutes of being wounded. The 250-pound Baldonado was also fortunate that Jackson had the strength to gather him up, put him inside his car and drive to the hospital, after teammate Stephen Wood applied a tourniquet to his badly bleeding arm. Had they been further away, Baldonado might have bled to death before getting medical help.
These days, those scary moments are fading from Baldonado’s mind.
“I’m still out there hitting, banging around, so I feel like I’m still there. I still got that toughness in me,” he said. “I’ve been doing good, so I know I’ve recovered a lot. I’m out of shape a little bit, but I know by the time the season starts that coach Everhart will have me in pretty good shape.”
Baldonado’s injuries led to one unusual circumstance: a player competing for the school he is suing.
At the urging of family members, Baldonado filed a lawsuit in April alleging that Duquesne failed to provide proper security for him and others at the school party that preceded the shootings. The two men accused of shooting at the players were not Duquesne students.
The suit also claims the shootings caused severe and permanent injuries that will affect Baldonado’s ability to make a living as a pro basketball player, either in the NBA or overseas.
Whereas Ashaolu and his family kept private their dealings with the university to assure his long-term care and post-college financial stability, Baldonado chose to proceed with a public suit.
“I don’t want to get into that right now,” said Baldonado, who prefers to focus on the season and his academic work. “I just don’t want to get into that.”
He’s looking forward to the season he never doubted he would play, even during those six days he was hospitalized.
“I was thinking then that I’m a tough guy, so I’ve just got to recover well. That’s what it’s going to take for me to come back,” he said. “Now I can’t wait for the season to be started, that’s what I’ve been here for, that’s what I came here for.”
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