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Grant Shares His Battle with Young Onset Parkinson's Disease via The Players' Tribune

by Cody Sharrett

Since retiring from the NBA in 2006, Brian Grant has been one of the most familiar ambassadors of the Trail Blazers organization. Along with his community outreach work in Rip City, Grant runs the Brian Grant Foundation geared toward empowering those affected by Parkinson's Disease, an ailment he's fought for nearly a decade.

In an entry tited 'Joining the Fight' posted Wednesday on The Players' Tribune, Grant details his diagnosis and the day-to-day battles he encounters with the disease.

Writes Grant: 

"It’s so hard knowing something’s wrong but not knowing what that something is. No one had any answers for me, until I saw Dr. John Nutt at the Oregon Health and Sciences University.

The answer was one that affects only four percent of the under-50 population, and one for which there is no cure.

I was 36 years old, one of 400 people to have played in the NBA for 12 seasons, an elite athlete. And I had Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease."

Grant received support from actor Michael J. Fox and the late Muhammad Ali, both of whom have dealt with the disease and its effects. Grant's diagnosis also mended an old rivalry dating back to his days as a Blazer:

"Sometimes, support has come from the most unlikely places, like an old foe.

A few weeks after I went public with my disease, I got a call from number I didn’t recognize.

“Brian, it’s Karl Malone. I just heard about your disease and I was wondering if there’s anything I can do to help.”

As it turned out, I did have an idea.

“Do you remember Games Five and Six of the Western Conference semis?” I asked.

“I’ll never forget them.”

“Well, after Game Five, I went home and watched your interview. When I had my interview the next day, they asked me what message I had for you. I didn’t want to talk smack. I just said that you’re my idol, I patterned my game after you, and I heard you like to hunt and fish, and I’m hoping that one day we can go fishing together. So I think a fishing trip with you and me would be a really great auction item.”

All he said was: “Done.”

We raised $107,000 from that one trip."

Read Grant's entire story at The Players' Tribune. Learn more about the Brian Grant Foundation at the organization's website.

Grant is due to appear on an upcoming episode of The Trail podcast later this summer.

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