It has been more than a decade since you went public wi…

It has been more than a decade since you went public with your Parkinson’s diagnosis. How would you describe your life now? Brian Grant: I have my struggles. I’ve completely dealt with the fact that there are some things I deal with, like depression and things I have no control over. All in all, I’m very proud of the foundation that I’ve built. It’s a great feeling when you see something that you created helping so many people. I would say my life is more chill and laid back. I go to a lot of banquets and things and I have a speaking business called Brian Grant Speaks.

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What are the keys to navigating bad weeks? Brian Grant: I exercise. I definitely take medication that helps with the tremor but also alternative medicine. I just started with this healer and it was a great session. I’m really excited to see where it’s going to go because at that one appointment there was no anxiety. My tremor actually stopped.
But this kind of fear was too much. He needed to know if he was just imagining everything or if his symptoms had a name. What if they were somehow his fault? What if they never went away? A few months later he sat in the office of Dr. John Nutt, a neurologist at the Oregon Health & Science University. As Nutt spoke, Grant heard his words, but it would take hours—weeks, months, years, really—for their full weight to register. That, at 36 years old, he had Parkinson's disease.
Brian's initial instinct after the diagnosis was to hide. Battle this out alone. Then, one day in 2009, his cellphone rang. The voice on the other end sounded familiar after all those nights on the couch. "Hi, Brian," it said. "This is Michael J. Fox." Fox had been diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's in 1991, at 29. Fearing it would affect his ability to get work, he had waited seven years before going public. When he announced his diagnosis, Fox did so with a purpose: to find a cure. He started a foundation. Fund-raised. Wrote three books. Became the face of the disease.
Life is pared down. He works as a Blazers ambassador, enjoying the connection to fans, and does occasional stints on sports radio. He owns a modest house on a nondescript suburban street, where he lives with his 14- and 15-year-old daughters. When I visit, the fridge is stocked with healthy foods: spinach, egg whites, zucchini. A yoga book rests on the coffee table. It's not until I enter his personal study, off to the side, that I find any mementos from his career—framed jerseys from the Blazers and the Heat. More prevalent are photos of family and fishing trips. He says he hasn't played basketball in years and isn't that interested in talking about the old days.
The ruthless, unforgiving disease is ominously creeping more into his life by the day. And yet here is the former NBA power forward/center, excited that he will be calling Suns at Trail Blazers in a few hours as a rookie analyst on Portland radio broadcasts alongside veteran play-by-play man Brian Wheeler. Grant’s enthusiasm for the part-time job is practically bouncing off the walls of a conference room inside team headquarters in Moda Center, his passion at having a new purpose in life unmistakable.
He started the Brian Grant Foundation in 2010 to raise money and awareness in the fight against the neurological disease that has no known cause or cure. He needs this. Even if it harms him. “It’s a possibility because stress, anxiety are really killers of the dopamine-producing cells in the brain,” Grant said. “But let me tell you something. I’ve been on my butt since 2006. If I got to lose a few brain cells to be able to live again and feel whole then that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to sit around for another six years or five years. I want to be a part of something. I’d like to be able to earn a living. I’d like for my kids to know -- just these games that I’m doing right know I can already tell. My boys are calling me from college and they’re like, ‘Dad, way to go.’ I’m like, ‘Man, I suck.’ ‘It don’t matter. You’re doing things.’ Whereas before, when they were still here, I was just at home, trying to figure out what’s next.
Storyline: Brian Grant Health
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