KNX Hero: Downey doctor keeping SoCal sports safe

Dr. Daniel Diaz is a sports medicine physician with AltaMed Health Services, and while his day job is commendable on its own, what he does with his free time is what makes him a hero.

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Dr. Diaz volunteers at local high school sporting events, helping schools that don't have a team physician.

He told Heroes producer Heather Jordan, "At the high school level, most schools do not have a team physician or a team doctor, and as a result, sometimes the care that they receive isn't the latest information. And so being able to be there and provide the best care I can to the students and support the school is really why I do it."

(L) Ringside Physician for Professional Boxing at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA (April 2023), (R) Event Physician - WNBA All-Star Game at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV (July 2019)
(L) Ringside Physician for Professional Boxing at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA (April 2023), (R) Event Physician - WNBA All-Star Game at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, NV (July 2019) Photo credit Dr. Daniel Diaz

Sometimes it's dealing with a simple ankle sprain but other times it's more urgent. So, having a doctor on standby is crucial.

"There are life-threatening emergencies that may happen - with cardiac arrests or if someone's heart stops, like in the case of Bronny James a few weeks ago. And so just having that health care professional or a team doctor could be life-saving," Dr. Diaz said.

For Dr. Diaz, it's also about bridging the gap for underserved students and their families.

"I come from a huge Mexican family spending time in different parts of L.A., and so growing up in the area, I saw firsthand some of the disparities, and really, that's where I try to be that bridge," he said.

According to the doctor, having a physician in the community who speaks the patients' language and understands their culture promotes the best health possible.

He said, "We know that 80% of the health of our patients in our community doesn't come from the doctor's office. So really trying to get resources back into the community, whether helping out a local high school or... getting community health workers out to meet the patients in their homes is really the goal."

Team Physician - Rivalry Football Game between Downey High School vs Warren High School - Downey, CA (Oct 2021). Pictured from Left to Right: Ana Maria Mejia Cardenia, MD, Erick Leyva, Gustavo Casillas, MD, Daniel Diaz, DO, Alexander Soto, MD, Myra Gutierrez, DO.
Team Physician - Rivalry Football Game between Downey High School vs Warren High School - Downey, CA (Oct 2021). Pictured from Left to Right: Ana Maria Mejia Cardenia, MD, Erick Leyva, Gustavo Casillas, MD, Daniel Diaz, DO, Alexander Soto, MD, Myra Gutierrez, DO. Photo credit Dr. Daniel Diaz

Dr. Diaz also works with college and pro sports teams. His dedication to keeping athletes from SoCal and beyond safe makes him our KNX Hero of the Week.

Check out all our KNX Heroes here.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Dr. Daniel Diaz