7 Athletes with Serious Health Conditions

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We often think of athletes as the healthiest members of society but there are several who overcome serious health conditions everyday. Here is a list of seven athletes who are blowing our minds despite the odds. If they can do it, so can you!

Venus Williams – Sjogren’s Syndrome

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Image via Instagram: @elevenbyvenus
The five time Wimbledon Champ, Venus Williams, was diagnosed in 2010 with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an immune system disorder characterized by dry mouth and dry eyes. After her diagnosis Venus stated, “Of course I want to be #1, but being happy and healthy is the most important thing”. The 22 overall grand slam winner struggled with symptoms that could seriously jeopardize her tennis career. The swelling and stiffness, however, did not restrain Venus from reclaiming her status as a top 20 ranked player worldwide, along her sister Serena Williams.

Magic Johnson – AIDS/HIV

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Image via Instagram: @magicjohnson
Five-time NBA Champion and twelve time All-Star, Earvin “Magic” Johnson announced he was HIV-positive at age 32, abruptly halting his distinguished career. Despite being unable to display his skills on the court, Magic proved to be an inspiration to middle-aged Americans battling the disease. Johnson’s autobiography “My Life” highlights some of his toughest challenges off the court, most of which came from his disease. Since Magic’s diagnosis, new drugs have increased life expectancy for people living with AIDS. More than 1.2 million people in the US live with HIV today.

Muhammad Ali – Parkinson’s Disease

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Image via Instagram: @muhammadali
Also referred to by his birth name, Cassius Marcellus Clay, the illustrious heavyweight boxer suffered from Parkinson’s Disease throughout the last thirty plus years of his life. Attributed to boxing related-brain injuries, the degenerative disease causes neurological symptoms such as tremors, rigidity, and hypokinesia. Parkinson’s disease slowed “The People’s Champion” down, but it did not forbid him from many feats outside of the ring including carrying the torch at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Ali continued to inspire people with his quotes outside the ring, his devoted religious life, and his contributions in the field of philanthropy.

Tim HowardTourette Syndrome

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Image via Instagram: @timhow1
The US Men’s National Team goalkeeper discovered his disorder growing up in school and used it as motivation for his athletic career. With over 100 international appearances, Howard never let his disorder prevent him from living his dreams both on and off the pitch. Howard’s long tenured career has served as an inspiration to footballers across the pond as well, where he spent ten years as the keeper for Everton FC in Liverpool. Symptoms of Tourette’s include repetitive, involuntary movements or vocalizations such as shoulder shrugging, repeated eye blinking, and blurting of offensive words.

Kareem Abdul JabbarLeukemia

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Image via Instagram: @kareemabduljabbar_33
NBA’s all-time leading scorer and 6 time NBA champion,Kareem-Abdul Jabbar was diagnosed with chronic myeloidleukemia in 2008. The disease which has a median age of 67 at diagnosis is a cancer of the blood and marrow. Symptoms usually include fatigue, weight loss and discomfort on the left side of the abdomen caused by an enlarged spleen. The UCLA and Lakers legend currently manages his condition with medication.

Lou GehrigALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)

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Baseball legend Lou Gehrig, nicknamed the “Iron Horse”, became the first prominent athlete to publicly announce a chronic disorder, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Main symptoms of the progressive disease include muscle weakness, coordination problems, and overactive reflexes. Gehrig remained positive throughout his life with ALS, famously declaring, “I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for”. Also referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”, ALS forced the former all time consecutive games leader into early retirement and death at the age of 36.

Kayla MontgomeryMS (Multiple Sclerosis)

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Image via Instagram: @k8yrae
One of the fastest young long distance runners in the states,Kayla Montgomery suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease affecting the immune system that is triggered by an unidentified environmental factor. After being diagnosed at the early age of 14, Kayla switched sports from the contact sport of soccer to running and never looked back. Kayla feels no pain while competing on the track, but must be caught by her track coach who saves her from collapsing. The now 21 year old North Carolina long distance runner’s incredible story is featured on the ESPN ‘E:60’ – Catching Kayla.

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