Famous People with ALS
(Lou Gehrig's Disease)
ALS does not discriminate. Anyone can wind up with this debilitating
disease. Lou Gehrig, the famous baseball player and for whom the
disease is commonly referred to, was one of the first people to
be diagnosed with this disease.
ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neuromuscular disease
that affects both women and men although men do seem to have a
slightly higher incidence. The disease is debilitating, mostly
fatal and there is no cure for it. ALS is a disease that affects
all the muscles of the body.
ALS interrupts the signal that the brain sends to the muscles
to function. This interruption can quickly cause the muscles to
atrophy and not respond to stimuli. Considering that the heart
and the lungs are both muscles the interruption inside the message
center of the brain, can be deadly.
There is no specific time frame for the disease. Some people
live with the disease for a decade while others die within months.
There is very little still known about the causes of ALS, so a
cure is still a ways off.
There are some famous people that are affected by ALS. Stephan
Hawking, called the smartest man alive, has ALS. The professor
and his scholar partner are credited with work on Einstein's theory
of relativity. He is wheel chair bound with limited use of his
limbs but has maintained that he does not feel bitter about the
disease. He just accepts his lot in life and is grateful that
his mind is not affected.
Former Massachusetts governor Paul Cellucci lost his battle with
ALS in 2001. "Catfish" Hunter a professional baseball
pitcher was also affected by this disease which took his life
only a year after being diagnosed. Hunter, a baseball hall of
famer, won over 200 games and was the highest paid baseball player
of his time.
Kevin Turner a professional football player with the New England
Patriots was diagnosed with ALS. Academy Award winning actor David
Niven passed away in 1983 from ALS.
Lou Gehrig is one of the most famous people with this disease.
He eventually was left wheelchair bound and lost his life to the
disease only a few years after being diagnosed.
Jazz guitarist Charles Mingus had ALS although he died from a
heart attack before the disease took its toll. Actor Lane Smith
who played in many roles on both television and on the big screen
had this terrible disease and died in 2005.
More on the List
Here is an additional list of celebrities and other famous notables
with ALS including Mao Zedong, Lead Belly, Don Revie, Jason Becker,
Dieter Dengler, Fokko du Cloux, Stanley Sadie, Hans Keller, Jacob
Javits, Michael Zaslow, Chris Pendergast, Dan Toler, Dennis Day,
Steve Gleason, Augie Nieto, Mike Porcaro, Henry Wallace, Maxwell
Taylor, Jon Stone, Dmitri Shostakovich, Morrie Schwartz, Dennis
Day, Glenn Montgomery, Eric Scoggins, Jeff Julian, Ezzard Charles,
Charlie Wedemeyer, George Yardley, O.J. Brigance, Mary Valastro,
Pete Duranko and Augie Nieto.
This disease does not distinguish between the famous and the
not so famous. ALS is often misdiagnosed. The only treatment available
is to treat the symptoms. From sports greats to politicians no
one is safe.
Current research has indicated that there may be a genetic link
for the disease. But more research has to be conducted to be able
to pinpoint the cause so that an effective treatment can be developed.