Bay area man to compete in Invictus Games

- Retired Staff Sergeant Jason Ellis is about to get his moment.

He's had to work for it, but he's used to working through the pain.

"Sometimes it's a daily challenge to even get out of bed," he said. "Just dealing with my injuries and what not. It creates a challenge, but I have to keep looking at what my goal is and really try to do something worthwhile at the Invictus Games."

The Invictus Games are for wounded warriors from 15 different countries-- a worldwide Olympic-style sporting event for all the men and women who have seen the horror or war.

For Jason, that came in 2003- the pre-IED era.

He was with the U.S. Air Force on a special operations mission in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The brand new Humvees were not equipped to handle the crude new weapon of the insurgency, and a roadside bomb nearly killed him.

"That day out of nowhere," he recalled. "It flipped the Humvee over and from that point, I didn't know what happened because I was knocked unconscious. From there I know I was medevac-ed out to Landstuhl. I was kind of told briefly what happened, but they didn't tell me in great detail."

It took years of therapy and surgery and prayers and tears, but he's here now- proud to say he made it.

"I've climbed mountains most men have only photographed," he said, smiling.

Wheelchair basketball is his game, and his motivation came- in part- from the most unlikely of places: A fellow veteran, Prince Harry.

"The Invictus Games started because Prince Harry wanted to be able to do something internationally," he explained. "He wanted an international-type competition for adaptive sports programs. and to be able to get some of the guys out and be able to compete, and that camaraderie and everything else."

Two years ago, Jason saw him at the Warrior Games and he was inspired.

"Just to see him- he got out there and actually competed with the guys when they were doing sitting volleyball,” he said. “And to be able to see him act just like anyone of us…it was refreshing to be able to see that because you actually see this guy. Even though he is royalty, he is a down-to-earth-type guy."

So for the last year, he's been training at RWB in Tampa, building his upper body strength and his mental game, getting ready for his shot on the world stage this weekend at ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Orlando.

The preliminary rounds for wheelchair basketball are Friday. He will also compete in the sitting shotput and discus competitions.

"Never let what you can't do in life interfere with what you can do in life," he said. 

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