Former NBA Star Brian Grant Talks Life With Early-Onset Parkinson’s

Brian Grant led a charmed life. NBA All-Rookie First team in 1995 and over $100M in career on-court earnings. That changed in 2005 when a doctor and friend diagnosed him with early-onset Parkinson’s while Grant was still playing in the NBA. Grant has a new book out (with veteran NBA writer Ric Bucher) and he’s doing the rounds to promote it.

What was it like for you to learn you had Parkinson’s and how have you dealt with it since?

Grant: The first person to tell me I had Parkinson’s was a good friend and my doctor. We were on a flight from Portland because I had to check on my house and he came with me. I was explaining to him what I thought it was. He finally just grabbed my hand and said, “Brother, I’m going to tell you that you have Parkinson’s.” I was kind of pissed off. I’m like how are you going to say that to me? That’s the worst thing that it could be in my eyes. In hindsight, he was absolutely right. It wasn’t until 2008 or 2009 that I got the official diagnosis from OHSU. Dealing with that in itself for anybody is going to be tough. I look at my journey and it was pretty tough because I’ve been used to having all these surgeries and things to correct stuff within my body if something goes wrong. Now, I have something that a surgery is not going to cure. I’m in a battle that I can fight and keep battling, and I’m going to, but eventually, I’m going to lose the battle with Parkinson’s unless there’s a cure. It’s a different mindset. I can’t go in there being Brian Grant battling Karl Malone and Shaq because I’ll take an L and then it’ll take me down.

Grant has spent the last decade advocating for Parkinson’s sufferers, with a particular focus on young people dealing with the disease.

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