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This veteran lost his leg, but found strength in competition

Vet inspired by basketball

Every year since 2010, the Department of Defense's Warrior Games bring together wounded service members in a supportive and competitive environment to enhance their recovery and rehabilitation. This year, 300 athletes from all branches of the armed forces came to the Air Force Academy for the event. CBSN brings you five stories of these "American Warriors."

It was St. Patrick's Day, 2007. Retired Army Spc. Anthony Farve was on patrol just north of Baghdad. He and his friends were talking about what they'd done to celebrate the holiday the year prior, and what they planned to do next year. Then the IED exploded.

"It was like a movie where the dirt was coming down, my ears were ringing," says Farve. "I look down and my foot was facing this way, and I was facing this way."

That moment changed Farve's life forever. But he could have never guessed where the long and winding road of recovery would take him. It was a path full of setbacks, depression, hard choices and hard work. Early in the process, his future looked dim.

Retired Army Spc. Anthony Farve's self portrait after losing his leg to an IED blast in Iraq in 2007. Anthony Farve

"I was overweight. Living in my parent's basement. No job. No nothing," Farve recalls.

He says the leg injury was just a small part of everything he was going through. He no longer felt like he was part of a team. There was no more structure in his life. He didn't feel needed anymore.

But then he found passion in two forms. He met his wife, Sarah, whose active lifestyle encouraged him to come out of the shell he was living in. And he found wheelchair basketball, a sport he knew nothing about before his injury.

"Wheelchair basketball completely changed my life," says Farve.

Retired Army Spc. Anthony Farve competing at the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games. The Army's wheelchair basketball team won gold. CBS News

He started practicing several hours a day, six days a week. He went to camps all around the country, meeting other veterans who played, and he found out about events like the Department of Defense Warrior Games, where CBS News met him in June.

"I just was somebody else to get inspired," he says. "I'm helping the Army team win gold, and I'm accomplishing so much I didn't think I could do."

Looking back on his life now, Farve has his own personal highlight reel: getting married, losing 110 pounds, winning back-to-back gold medals for the Army wheelchair basketball team.

And his future is looking as bright as the shine off those first-place medals.

He's now a starter on the University of Arizona's wheelchair basketball team, which is currently ranked seventh in the nation. 

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