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14 Winning Athletes With Diabetes

A few weeks ago, Kyle Love was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This week he lost his job over the diagnosis.

That’s the black and white truth. You could explain away the situation because Kyle Love happened to have been a defensive tackle for the New England Patriots. After the diagnosis he dropped 30 pounds off his 310 pound frame, thereby causing the team to cut him with a “non-football illness designation.”

In plain English, Kyle Love was fired because he has diabetes. But he’s not alone, there are dozens of athletes with diabetes, many of them legendary.

This week I am off on another journey with Team Diabetes. Over the past 5 years, I have raised more than $25 000 to help people living with diabetes, and pre-diabetes. The money I raise goes to research, support programs, and awareness.

Awareness is the central point of what Team Diabetes is about. As we do our fundraising, we are telling everyone about diabetes, the importance of being active, and having a healthy diet. It’s too bad I couldn’t sit down with the New England Patriots and explain to them that athletes with diabetes is not a ‘firing offence.’

Bill Belichick, and the rest of the Patriots front office, the message you are sending to kids with diabetes is terrible. Instead of keeping an athlete who could act as a role model to tens of thousands of kids, you are cutting him loose – deeming him broken and worthless.

Athletes with diabetes are not broken. It’s treatable, and manageable. In fact, Kyle Love has been managing his Type 2 diagnosis and is ready to ball this fall.

Shame on you, Pats. Just check out this list of athletes with diabetes who went on to huge success.

  • Winning Athletes With Diabetes 1 of 15
    14 Winning Athletes with Diabetes

    For these athletes, diabetes (and their team) didn't get in the way of success, it was just part of the training.

  • Jay Cutler 2 of 15
    Athletes With Diabetes - Jay Cutler

    Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 25.  Despite the diagnosis, he continued as starting QB for the Denver Broncos that season. Jay now plays for the Chicago Bears. Since his diagnosis, Jay has a 42-30 record as a starter and is a very visible and vocal advocate for people with diabetes.

    Image via Wikipedia

  • Nick Boynton 3 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Nick Boynton

    Nick Boynton was originally misdiagnosed as having Type 2 diabetes when he was 19, shortly before his first NHL training camp. Eventually doctors got his T1D diagnosis straight. Nick played more than 600 games in the NHL over 11 seasons, winning the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.

    "My advice to other young athletes would be to find a level that works for you, especially for training. Make sure your blood glucose is at the level you want it by testing often," Boynton told Diabetes Health. "I make sure I test a lot. That's one thing I do that's very important, because if I'm low, then bad things are going to happen out on the ice. I find out what works for me with food and test my glucose as often as I can."

    Image via Wikipedia

  • Kelli Keuhne 4 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Kelli Kuehne

    Kelli was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 10 years old. A fashionable part of her golf wardrobe were the wires from her insulin pump. It looked like she was wearing a microphone pack on her hip, but the pump let her focus on her game.  Kuehne was an All-American at Texas, and won the 1999 LPGA Corning Classic. She also played for the USA on the Solheim Cup teams in 2002 and 2003.

    Image via LPGA

  • Adam Morrison 5 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Adam Morrison

    Adam Morrison was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 13.  In the midst of an overtime Grade 8 basketball game, Morrison fell in seizures. He was taken to hospital where the diagnosis was made.

    He went on to be one of the country's top college basketball players playing for Gonzaga. During his freshman year,  his life with diabetes was profiled in Sports Illustrated. On the day the issue was released, more than 50 parents of children with diabetes contacted Gonzaga asking if Morrison could speak to their children.

    Adam went on to play for the Charlotte Bobcats, LA Lakers, Washington Wizards, and Portland Trailblazers.

    Image via Wikipedia

  • Sean Busby 6 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Sean Busby

    Sean Busby was diagnosed with Type 1 when he was 19.

    A pro backcountry snowboard, Busby took the diagnosis head on. "I believe I was given this disease for a reason," he says. "And that's to show others anything's possible."

    He went on to found Riding On Insulin, an inspirational organization that gives back to people with chronic disease.

    Image via JDRF.org

  • Scott Verplank 7 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Scott Verplank

    Scott Verplank was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 9.  Back in 1973, treatment was very different than it is today. There was little flexibility and treating his disease became a rigid regimen.

    Verplank has played nearly 30 years as a pro with 8 tournament wins and more than $27M in career earnings (13th all-time).

    He not only has clubs in his bag, but also a glucose meter. He tests before he tees off, and during the round to make sure he's on target. "Adrenaline and stress can change my blood glucose quite a bit," he told Diabetes Health. "I get on less of a rollercoaster after the round is underway. I continue to check and adjust to stay steady throughout the day."

    Image via PGA

  • Jay Leeuwenburg 8 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Jay Leeuwenburg

    Jay Leeuwenberg was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 12. He went on to play 9years as a starting offensive lineman in the NFL for 5 teams. 

    Jay is a vocal advocate for diabetes with his book Yes I Can Yes You Can.

    His advice for kids is consistent: "remember that you can achieve anything you want -- diabetes does not have to stop you from accomplishing your goals."

    Image via Children with Diabetes

  • Scott Dunton 9 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Scott Dunton

    Scott Dunton was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 16.  Dunton told dLife that when he was first diagnosed, it was a hard time.

    "I was just a normal teenager going to school spending every penny I had on one of two things gas in my truck or candy and junk food. So to find out one day that I couldn't eat candy or anything really that I once lived off was a big step in my life."

    He eventually learned to flip it around and become one of the best surfers on the planet.

    "Diabetes doesn't have to be the haystack with you as a needle," he says. "Be the haystack and let diabetes be the needle."

    Image via dLife

  • Charlie Kimball 10 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Charlie Kimball

    Charlie Kimball was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 22, and already an accomplished racer.  He took off the rest of the season when he was diagnosed to manage his disease, but has come back as a stronger racer and a voice for diabetics.

    The first licensed driver with diabetes in the history of  IndyCar, he now drives No. 83 for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. Yup, he carries the banner for a diabetes sponsor on his chassis. 

    Image via Charlie Kimball

  • Gary Hall Jr 11 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Gary Hall Jr

    Gary Hall Jr was already an Olympic champion when he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes before the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Back in Atlanta, in 1996, he had picked up 2 silvers and 2 gold. The diagnosis didn't slow him down as he would pick up 4 more medals, including 2 gold in Australia.

    Hall Jr would finish his career with 10 medals over 3 Olympic games and one of the best swimmers in the sport.

    Image via Openwaterpedia

  • Bobby Clarke 12 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Bobby Clarke

    One of the toughest players to ever put on a pair of skates, Bobby Clarke was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 13. This was back in 1963.  It didn't slow him down, he went on to win the Stanley Cup as captain of the Philadelphia Flyers and is still revered as one of the best players in the history of the game.

    Back in 1983, Clarke told People Magazine: "People think I have some secret that allows me to have diabetes and play hockey, that I must be doing something nobody else is doing. But my diabetes is the same as any juvenile diabetic's. I have to take insulin; I have to exercise and watch what I eat. I'm asked a lot to advise young people who get it. I think they have to take care of it themselves."

    Image via Wikipedia

  • Chris Dudley 13 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Chris Dudley

    Chris Dudley was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in high school, at age 16.

    Dudley was regarded as a journeyman NBA player, suiting up at center for 5 teams over a 16 year and 886 game career. 

    He started the Dudley Foundation which runs camps for kids with diabetes.  The goal is to show kids they can play sports and still manage their diabetes. 

    Image via Chris Dudley

  • Michelle McGann 14 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Michelle McGann

    Michelle McGann started playing golf when she was 7.  When she was 13, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and says "while life is full of challenges, it is also full of joy."

    2013 is McGann's 25th on the LPGA Tour, a career that has seen her win 8 times.

    McGann is a vocal advocate for kids living with diabetes as The Michelle McGann Fund is dedicated to serving underprivileged children with diabetes. 

    Image via Michelle McGann

  • Kyle Love 15 of 15
    Athletes with Diabetes - Kyle Love

    Kyle Love, defensive tackle formerly of the New England Patriots and soon to find a new home, taking the release and diagnosis in stride. The mark of a champion.

    Image via Kyle Love

**UPDATE** The moment Love was put on waivers, the Jacksonsville Jaguars picked him up. Looks like I’ve got a new favorite team.

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