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First person with MS to play in the NBA shares his inspiring message

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Multiple sclerosis is a life-altering diagnosis for the 1 million people affected in the United States, but for professional athletes, its physical limitations can seem especially daunting.

Chris Wright, 34, the first player with MS to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA), has been living with the disorder since being diagnosed in 2012.

in front of World Multiple Sclerosis Day On May 30, Wright and neurologist Dr. Heidi Clayton appeared on camera for an interview with Fox News Digital from Washington, DC, to talk about how Wright has dealt with MS and offer words of wisdom to others facing the same diagnosis. (See the video at the beginning of this article.)

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Wright said his symptoms first appeared in 2012, when he noticed a tingling sensation in his right leg while warming up for an overseas basketball game in Turkey.

“While filming, I felt a tingling sensation in my right hand that spread throughout my entire body within a minute,” he told Fox News Digital.

Chris Wright (34), the first player with multiple sclerosis to play in the NBA, has been living with the disease since being diagnosed in 2012. (Getty Images/Chris Wright)

His coaches sent him to the doctor, who told him to rest for the day.

“I woke up the next morning and I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t stand up, I could barely move my arms and legs,” he recalled.

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Wright returned to the doctor, this time in a wheelchair.

“They referred me to a specialist who quickly diagnosed me with multiple sclerosis.”

MS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system that can affect movement, vision, speech and other functions.

After seeing several other doctors, Wright found Dr. Clayton, a board-certified neurologist who practices at the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Greater Washington.

Chris Wright Basketball

Chris Wright of Bertram Delsona Basket Tortona plays during Game 3 of the LBA Lega Basket Series A Playoff Semifinals between Bertram Delsona Basket Tortona and Virtus Segafredo Bologna PalaEnergica Paolo Ferraris on May 31, 2022 in Casale Monferrato, Italy. (Getty Images)

“I came to her because of her confidence and ability to demystify what it means to have MS and make it manageable for me. [She] “It helped me understand that I could continue with my career and my life the way I wanted,” he said.

Clayton noted that the patient-doctor relationship is “a marathon, not a sprint.”

“It’s really important that patients find a doctor they can trust, a doctor they can communicate with, a doctor they can make decisions with,” she told Fox News Digital.

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“You need a team that supports you, loves you and accepts you.”

Less than a year after his diagnosis, Wright signed with the Dallas Mavericks, becoming the first player with MS to play in the NBA.

“MS has had a huge impact on my career because no one had had it before me,” Wright told Fox News Digital.

“You need a team that supports you, loves you and accepts you.”

“An offer from the NBA was rescinded due to me having potential health issues and being in unknown territory, but I kept working my way through it.”

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Wright, a husband and father of three, said that although he hasn’t been playing basketball lately, he is healthy and enjoying life.

“Living with MS means looking good and feeling good. It feels great,” he said.

“I try to stay active. I try to stay healthy. I try to move my body. And I’m able to stay healthy and still be a father and live the life I want.”

“Badge of Honor”

Wright encouraged anyone facing a new diagnosis to seek out information from others who have “walked the same path” before.

“There are people out there who understand what you’re going through. It’s important to listen to other people’s stories and get a basic understanding of what life is going to be like.”

Dr. Heidi Clayton

After seeing several other doctors, Wright found Dr. Clayton (pictured), a board-certified neurologist who practices at the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Greater Washington. (Dr. Heidi Clayton)

Wright is part of Express4MS, a campaign that encourages people with MS to express themselves, share their experiences and discuss treatment options with their doctors.

“This is something that people can have in their toolbox to find information, inspiration and motivation to live each day in a positive way,” Wright said.

“Just walk with pride and know that you’ll be okay.”

“I would say to people: keep working hard, push through the tough times and find what works for you,” he said.

“Whatever you do, figure out how you can be successful at it.”

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Wright urges people with MS to see the disease as a “badge of honour” rather than a disability.

He said, “Walk with pride and know that it’s going to be okay.”

“Treat your body like a temple,” Clayton advises people with MS.

Chris Wright

Chris Wright of Bertram Deltona Basket Tortona plays during the third leg of the LBA Lega Basket Serie A playoff semifinals between Bertram Deltona Basket Tortona and Virtus Segafredo Bologna PalaEnergica Paolo Ferraris on May 31, 2022 in Casale Monferrato, Italy. (Getty Images)

“If you can invest in your health — eating well, exercising, sleeping well — it will pay off,” she said.

While there will always be bad days for people with MS, Wright focuses on maintaining a positive outlook.

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“As long as we’re on the ground, we have the opportunity to make the most of it,” he said.

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so whatever you put out is energy that comes back.”

For more health related articles, health.

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