Memphis basketball star Antonio Burks' condition improving - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis basketball star Antonio Burks' condition improving

By Lori Brown - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Memphis basketball star who was shot during a robbery last week continues to recover at the Regional Medical Center.

Antonio Burks' condition has improved from critical to serious.

With a ventilator tube finally out of his mouth, the former Memphis Grizzlies and University of Memphis point guard was able to express himself with words for the first time since the shooting.

His brother Chris laughed as he told us about the first thing on the basketball player's mind.

"He said he's hungry - he wants something to eat," he said.

Now that he can speak, the 29-year-old is back to joking around.

"Especially with the nurses," his brother said.

Antonio Burks was surprised to learn about just how many people have come to visit him since the shooting Monday.

"He remembered Coach Cal came," Chris Burks said. "I said some other people came, he'd say 'They came...they came, for real?' "

Those who've paid him a visit include former Tigers Coach John Calipari, childhood hero Penny Hardaway, and newly-drafted Boston Celtics guard Lester Hudson.

Action News 5 caught up with one of his visitors outside the Med - Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace.

"I loved watching him play because he'd make things happen. He was a 'making things happen' kind of player," Wallace said.

Burks was hoping to continue to play in the European League next season.

Wallace says the young man's spirit will help him get better through the likely long rehab process.

"An athlete with his type of will and courage and spirit...if anyone can come back, it will be Antonio Burks," he said.

Although Burks is back to joking around with his visitors, family members say that when the room empties out, he becomes more somber.

"He laughs sometimes, but you can see he's a little disappointed," said uncle Ricky Burks. "Got a long road ahead of him."

Burks was shot in the leg in South Memphis last Monday.

Police said the robbery happened during a game of dice in a backyard on Laclede Avenue. They say Burks was watching the game, but he wasn't a participant.

He has undergone several surgeries since the July 20 shooting.


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