PITTSBURGH -- Duquesne University forward Sam Ashaolu, one of five players shot last month following an on-campus party, has begun walking on his own as he continues to rehabilitate from head injuries caused by multiple gunshot wounds.
Ashaolu, the most seriously injured of the five players, is
getting out of bed by himself now, walking unaided in Mercy
Hospital's rehabilitation unit and has started calling family
members on his cell phone.
Physicians recently removed a feeding tube, and Ashaolu has been
talking -- though softly -- with a number of friends and family
members who regularly visit him.
Ashaolu, who still has several bullet fragments in his head,
also has begun calling his mother and younger brother.
"A friend of his was here the other night and began asking Sam
math questions -- What is three plus three? What is five times five?
And Sam answered them," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said
Wednesday. "We're seeing progress every day."
The 23-year-old Ashaolu, from Toronto, Ontario, spent several
days fighting for his life following the Sept. 17 on-campus
shootings. Whether he can play basketball again is uncertain, but
doctors are pleased with his progress since he moved from a
critical care unit to the rehabilitation wing two weeks ago.
A surgeon removed a bullet fragment from Ashaolu's head on Sept.
25, but several other fragments remain.
The other four injured players have returned to classes,
although junior forward Stuard Baldonado won't be able to start
preseason practice Friday as bullet wounds in his back and left arm
continue to heal.
Baldonado, a former junior college star who is considered
Duquesne's top recruit for this season, is shooting the ball before
and after practices but still faces at least another six weeks of
rehabilitation and recovery. He is likely to be redshirted this
season to preserve his two seasons of major college eligibility.
Shawn James, a 6-foot-10 center who led the nation in blocked
shots last season for Everhart at Northeastern, had the cast
removed from his injured foot and is walking without crutches. He hopes
to have the bullet in his foot removed soon.
James and former Siena guard Kojo Mensah, who was shot in the
left arm and shoulder, weren't eligible this season after
transferring from Division I schools. James and Mensah were
reunited at Duquesne after previously being teammates in AAU ball
and at a prep school.
Everhart is looking forward to the start of practice so his
players can refocus on basketball and the coming season.
"It's going to be therapeutic for everybody," he said.
Four people are accused of crimes in the shootings that followed
a Black Student Union party at Duquesne. Two -- William Holmes and
Derek Lee -- are accused of firing at the players. A suspended
Duquesne student, Brittany Jones, is accused of helping the two get
into the dance. Another woman, Erica R. Sager, is accused of urging
that the players be shot.