Kirk Gibson, shown on the field at Comerica Park, is a former Detroit Tiger who is now dedicated to raising funds and awareness for Parkinson's disease. In 2015, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Kirk Gibson, seen here in his Detroit Tigers jersey, was a part of the World Series-winning club in 1984. He has since become an advocate for people with Parkinson's disease.
In an interview with The Associated Press this week, Gibson said he had been experiencing symptoms for several years before getting the diagnosis. "I knew something wasn't right but I just didn't know what it was," he said. "I would wake up in the morning and my body wouldn't move right. My arms weren't swinging the way they should have been. My legs weren't moving like they should have been."
Gibson said he tried to ignore the problems until one day when he was hitting balls off a tee during batting practice. "I looked down and saw my hands kind of balling up into fists and that's when I knew something was wrong," he said. "My brain is telling me'something's wrong' but my body doesn't seem to be listening to it anymore."
After the season ended, Gibson returned home to Southern California where he has lived most of his life. He said he decided to keep the diagnosis private because he didn't want to risk losing his job as a sports broadcaster.
Gibson is currently battling Parkinson's disease, but he is not alone. While he has been instrumental in bringing championships to Detroit, he has also given back, beginning with his Kirk Gibson Foundation in 1996. Following his diagnosis, Gibson's aim was broadened to raise funds and awareness for Parkinson's research. He has raised over $50 million since then.
Gibson was born on January 4th, 1959 in Southfield, Michigan. He was one of five children of Alfred James "Al" Gibson and Luella Mae Bassett. His father was a truck driver who later became an insurance agent while his mother was a homemaker. He had two sisters and two brothers.
When Gibson was nine years old, he saw Jackie Robinson play baseball for the first time when the Brooklyn Dodgers came to town. It was this experience that inspired him to become a baseball player like Robinson. He played college baseball at Central Missouri State University before being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1983. After serving in the Marines for a year, he started out as a backup catcher but was eventually promoted to third base where he stayed until he got hurt in 1988.
After the Dodgers decided not to bring him back from injury, he signed with the San Francisco Giants as a free agent. He played three seasons with the Giants, helping them win the National League West title in 1987.
The limp that became Gibson's symbol for determination following his memorable walk-off pinch-hit home run for the Dodgers in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is now in his left foot and is only one of his symptoms. Gibson revealed in 2015 that he was suffering from Parkinson's disease. At the time, he said that he had first noticed signs of the disease several years earlier while preparing for a baseball game against Oakland. "I got up to go to the bathroom at some point during the pregame routine and couldn't get my legs to work right," he told The Los Angeles Times.
Gibson continued, "By the time I got back on the field, there were a few people in the crowd who must have thought something was wrong with me because they kept looking over at where I used to stand. But by then, it didn't matter. I was done." He added, "It's a cruel disease. It's not something you can hide from. And when it takes someone as special and unique as Charlie from this world, it's hard to deal with."
At the time of his death, Gibson was co-anchoring the nightly newscast for NBC News. He had also recently been named chairman of the board for the network that made him famous, making him one of the most powerful men in television news.
Gibson is not the only celebrity to have died from Parkinson's disease.
Dave Clark, best known for his live darts coverage on Sky Sports, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011. Over the years, Parkinson's UK has been a tremendous assistance to Dave, helping to raise awareness of Parkinson's disease through scores of TV and radio interviews.
Dave is very open about his condition, and recently wrote an article for The Darts Blog discussing how he manages his symptoms day-to-day. He also took part in a podcast I co-host with my wife Lisa, called Dart Talk where he talked through some of his health issues.
Since 2012, Dave has been working with us to create more awareness for Parkinson's through some innovative projects. Most recently, he raised £250,000 for Parkinson's UK by taking part in our You Caring campaign.
So yes, Dave does have Parkinson's disease, but it doesn't define him as a person or take away his passion for sport or life.
Parkinson's disease (PD) Harrison died on June 25 "surrounded by those he loved" following a lengthy struggle with Parkinson's disease, according to his son Rick in an Instagram message. He was 77 years old. "He will be greatly missed by our family, the crew at Gold & Silver Pawn, and his many followers all around the world," Rick said on Instagram.
Rick also wrote that his father had multiple myeloma, a cancer of plasma cells that produces large amounts of monoclonal protein in the blood. The myeloma attacked Harrison's bones, causing pain and disability. He was diagnosed with the disease in 2016.
Multiple myeloma is the second most common type of cancer of the blood. It affects about 14,000 people in the United States and causes approximately 10,000 deaths per year. Myeloma can develop at any age but is more common in older adults; it occurs without known causes.
The first sign of multiple myeloma may be short periods of severe bone pain without apparent cause. Other signs include fatigue, weakness, sore throat, fever, changes in the color of urine or stools, depression, loss of appetite, weight loss, trouble sleeping, and heart failure. A routine check-up can identify multiple myeloma early, when treatments are most effective.
There is no cure for multiple myeloma. Treatment aims to reduce the amount of abnormal proteins in the blood, control symptoms, and prolong life.
In a medical first, researchers implanted brain cells to cure Parkinson's disease. George Lopez, the enigmatic donor, suffers from Parkinson's disease, and in the lack of a cure or even therapies that do more than mask the symptoms, he was deteriorating. But now, thanks to this research project led by Dr. Hiromitsu Takagi at Tokyo University, they were able to grow new neurons using Lopez' skin cells. The idea is to one day transplant these "factory-made" neurons into people with Parkinson's disease or other neurological disorders to restore some of the lost function.
Lopez had agreed to be part of this experiment back in 2009. He had already been diagnosed with Parkinson's then, but the goal here was to see if it was possible to grow new neurons. The team used his skin cells to create "induced pluripotent stem cells" which can be transformed into any type of cell in the body. From there, they grew thousands of different types of nerve cells before selecting several groups of neurons that would be transplanted into rats with Parkinson's disease. One group of rats received skin cells from Lopez; another group received cells from healthy donors. After only four weeks, the rats that received cells from Lopez showed significant improvement in their motor skills. They walked faster and longer than the rats that didn't receive any cells at all.