The NBA Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins was once referred to as a “Human Highlight Film” for his incredible play on the court over the course of 12 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks.
One year after he retired from play, Wilkins was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and has been battling the disease for the past 17 years. Wilkins, though unaware of it at the time, is sure that he had diabetes during the time he was playing.
“Towards the end of my career, I had situations where after a game I would go to the restaurant and I couldn’t get up. I was sweating really bad, I was shaking–I had no energy. My sugar level go to low. So I had to eat something to get that energy back and I remember my brother asking, ‘are you ok big brother?’ and I’m like, ‘yeah i’m fine–I’m just coming down after a game’ and he was like ‘nooo–something’s wrong.'”
“I am not going to let it get the best of me,” the 56-year-old told those gathered during a recent speaking engagement in Indiana . “I will compete against it just like I did against a player on the court.”
Wilkins feels that he could have learned about the disease earlier but his finely tuned body hid it from him.
“People often ask me, ‘if you found out earlier, could you have played longer?'” Wilkins explains. “And the answer is no because when you are in great shape Diabetes is very hard to detect. I could have played three more years if I wanted to but it was time for me to retire.”
When Wilkins learned he had the disease he faced it head on.
“I was willing to do the three things my doctor told me I had to do,” he said. “That was change my diet, exercise more and take my medication. You have to do all three of them to fight the disease. Most people will take the medication, but once they feel better will take themselves off it. You can’t do that.
“I lost 34 pounds in two-and-a-half months. I had to cutback on a lot of the foods that I eat. I can still have a piece of apple or pecan pie, but just a slice not half the pie.”
- NBA Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins talks about battle with Diabetes in South Bend
- Former NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins talks diabetes, basketball in South Bend