Superb athlete, teammate and citizen, former Sun Brian Grant was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease this past January. Parkinson’s, for which there is no known cause or cure, is a progressive disease that disrupts the brain’s coordination and control of muscle movement and motor skills.
Rare as it is for a former world-class athlete to contract the ailment, it is even rarer for an athlete of 37 years to have it. However, the 6-9 former forward/center is committed to overcome it.
Grant, despite only appearing in 21 games for the Suns during the 2005-06 season, confided in former teammate Pat Burke when he heard the diagnosis. Going on the offensive, Grant changed the water in his house and began to eat strictly organic foods.
He spoke with naturolpathic doctors, created a lab-like room for all of his herbs and medicines and even changed his toothpastes and deodorants. But he also knew he needed to change his mind set.
The 12-year veteran learned that after he heard the story of former Sun Wayman Tisdale.
Tisdale, who passed away this past week from cancer, was a teammate of Grant’s in Sacramento. Grant cited Tisdale’s will and upbeat personality until the day that he died as the inspiration that he needed to face his own situation.
In addition, Grant sought out actor Michael J. Fox and boxer Muhammad Ali. The two celebrities, who are both afflicted with Parkinson’s, offered the former NBA Citizenship Award winner advice and insight on how to deal with the illness. Fox, in particular, helped change his perspective on his condition.
“He told me you have to rule it, you can’t let it rule you,” Grant told ESPN’s Ric Bucher. “There’s no saying, ‘If it’s going this way, then I’m going this way.’ It’s going to be with you. But instead of letting it control you and take you under, you’ve got to say, ‘OK, I know you’re going with me but you’re going to be back there.’”
For more on Grant’s fight, check out Bucher’s article on ESPN.com by clicking here.