The 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 a million affected people in the US, but for a professional athlete, its physical limitations can seem especially challenging.

Chris Wright, 34, the first person with MS to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA), has lived with the condition since his diagnosis in 2012.

Come on World MS Day On May 30, Wright and his neurologist, Dr. Heidi Crayton, joined Fox News Digital in an on-camera interview from Washington, DC, to discuss how he has come to terms with his MS and share words of wisdom for others who are confronted with the disease. diagnosis. (See the video at the top of this article.)

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Wright first experienced symptoms in 2012, he said, when he noticed tingling in his right foot while warming up before an overseas basketball game in Turkey.

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

Chris Wright, 34, the first person with MS to play in the NBA, has lived with the condition since his diagnosis in 2012. (Getty Images/Chris Wright)

His coaches sent him to a doctor, who told him to take the day off.

“The next morning I woke up and couldn't walk. I couldn't get up. I couldn't really use my limbs,” he recalls.

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

“They sent me to a specialist, where I was quickly diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.”

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

After visiting several other doctors, Wright found Dr. Crayton, a board-certified neurologist who works at the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Greater Washington.

Chris Wright Basketball

Chris Wright of Bertram Derthona Basket Tortona in action during the LBA Lega Basket Series A Playoffs Semi-Final Game 3 match between Bertram Derthona Basket Tortona and Virtus Segafredo Bologna PalaEnergica Paolo Ferraris on May 31, 2022 in Casale Monferrato, Italy. (Getty Images)

“What brought me to her was her confidence and her ability to simplify the meaning of MS and make it manageable for me. [She] helped me understand that I could still continue with my career and my life the way I wanted to,” he said.

Crayton noted that the patient-physician relationship is a “marathon, not a sprint.”

She told Fox News Digital, “It's very important to find a doctor that they can trust, that they can communicate with, that they can work with to make decisions.”

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“You need a team of people who support you, love you and accept you.”

Less than a year after his diagnosis, Wright became the first person with MS to play in the NBA when he signed with the Dallas Mavericks.

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

“You need a team of people who support you, love you and accept you.”

“I had NBA offers that were rescinded due to the possibility that I had medical conditions and was just in uncharted territory, but I kept working and overcame it.”

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Wright, a husband and father of three, no longer plays basketball these days, but he feels healthy and enjoys life, he said.

“Living with MS looks good, it feels good – I feel great,” he said.

“I try to stay active. I try to stay healthy. I try to keep moving. And I've been able to keep myself healthy and stay a dad and live my life the way I want to live.”

'Design of Honour'

For anyone facing a new diagnosis, Wright encouraged seeking resources from people who have walked these halls before.

“There are people who understand what you're going through, and it's important to hear other stories and gain a fundamental understanding of what your life will be like in the future.”

Dr.  Heidi Crayton

After visiting several other doctors, Wright found Dr. Crayton, pictured here, a board-certified neurologist who works at the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Greater Washington. (Dr. Heidi Crayton)

Wright is involved with Express4MS, a campaign that encourages people with MS to speak out, share their stories and discuss treatment options with their doctors.

“It's just something you can put in your toolbox to find information, inspiration and motivation to live every day in a positive way,” Wright said.

“Walk with pride and know that you are doing well.”

“I would say to people, stick with it, push through those tough times, find what works for you,” he said.

“Find out how to be successful at whatever you do.”

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Wright urges MS patients not to view the disease as a hindrance, but as a “badge of honor.”

He said, “Walk with pride and know that you are doing well.”

Clayton advises her MS patients to “treat your body like a temple.”

Chris Wright

Chris Wright of Bertram Derthona Basket Tortona in action during the LBA Lega Basket Serie A Playoffs Semi-Final Game 3 match between Bertram Derthona Basket Tortona and Virtus Segafredo Bologna PalaEnergica Paolo Ferraris on May 31, 2022 in Casale Monferrato, Italy. (Getty Images)

“There will be a return on your investment if you can invest in your health: eat right, exercise, sleep,” she said.

Although people with MS will always have bad days, Wright focuses on maintaining a positive outlook.

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“As long as you're above ground, you have the opportunity to make the most of it,” he said.

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction – so whatever you put out, it's the energy that comes back.”

For more health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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