Video: Former Blazers F Brian Grant, Battling Parkinson's Disease, Climbs Mount St. Helens

PoweringForward2013

Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Brian Grant climbs Mount St. Helens as he continues to battle Parkinson's disease.

Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Brian Grant made public his battle with Parkinson's disease in an article by ESPN.com's Ric Bucher back in 2009.

With a huge black-and-white painting of Bob Marley peering over one shoulder and a half-dozen framed NBA jerseys visible over the other, Brian Grant took a deep breath, ignored his left hand shaking as if it were trying to put out a match, and let go of the secret that had tormented him for the last four months.

"I have young onset Parkinson's," he said.

That's Parkinson's, as in the disease that disrupts the brain's coordination and control of muscle movement and motor skills. A progressive disease for which the cause and the cure are unknown. A disease so rare for someone like Grant, 37, to contract that his case is identified as "young onset."

It is a disease rarer still for a man so adept at coordinating and controlling every ounce and inch of his 6-foot-9, 254-pound frame that he put together a 12-year NBA career by battling Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone and dozens of other bigger, stronger opponents.

Grant's battle with Parkinson's is now the subject of a short video that shows him climbing Mount St. Helens in Washington with a group of people affected by the disease.

Here's the video uploaded to YouTube by PoweringForward2013.

Here's the video's introduction.

On the morning of August 21, 2012, former NBA Rookie All Star Brian Grant and 5 others with Parkinson's Disease set out to climb Mount St. Helens. The mountain is 8,365 feet high.

Here's a sampling of quotes from Grant's narration.

Coming down with Parkinson's humbled me in a way that I don't think anything else could have. Being diagnosed at the age of 36, I'm losing everything I've ever built and come to know with my body and it's slowly, slowly being taken away from me. My last year in the NBA I was with the Phoenix Suns. I was starting to see changes in my body, I knew there was something going on, I didn't know what. The ego and pride that you kind of build up over the career starts to just get knocked down.

...

It's something every Parkinson's patient has to come to grips with. For someone like me who is an athlete, whose body has served him well for years, it's really hard to wrap your mind around something that you have that you're not going to be able to fix. No matter how hard you fight it, it's going to eventually win.

...

The motto I have for everything, to overcome, power forward, to keep powering forward until I can't go any further. I'm inspired every day by each and every individual I know with Parkinson's because everyone is dealing with a different issue. Parkinson's is like luggage you're carrying along with you. You kind of find yourself again, that this is me walking through life with Parkinson's, not Parkinson's leading me through life.

The video's description notes that it will be submitted to the 2013 World Parkinson Congress's video competition.

The WPC understands the power of video messages. We launched a video competition leading up to the WPC 2010 which was an outstanding success. You can still watch the two winning videos below on this page and most of the videos submitted are still on display on YouTube.

The WPC 2013 invites you to make a video about your experience with PD and to share your journey with the larger community on the Road to a Cure. The WPC works to advance science, promote community, and inspire hope and sees video as a way to achieve these aims. The individual paths each of us takes can come together at the WPC to build and/or reveal a greater understanding of Parkinson's disease.

Grant, 41, played for the Blazers from 1997 to 2000. He has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars at fundraising events and his battle inspired a high school basketball coach to produce some amazing artwork.

Hat tip: Traci Rose

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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