ALS is solemnly robbing ex-linebacker Tim Shaw of his muscles. But he won’t let that stop him from living.

February 18, 2017 - als

NASHVILLE — The summary on a whiteboard in a lavatory is simple.

Walk, pronounce and thrive.

Tim Shaw, 32, has been essay his goals down for as prolonged as he can remember. He suggested in Blitz Your Life, his new book, that after he was drafted by a Carolina Panthers in 2007 his goals were to find God, make a team, lead a special teams section in tackles and make a All-Rookie team. He finished a group and went onto a 7-year career in a NFL before being cut in 2013 when his physique unexpected wouldn’t allow him to run yet tripping.

Scouting reports had described him as a actor with classic, blue-collar work ethic and during a rise of his career, as he writes in his book, he was a “238-pound barb fueled by adrenaline.”

In all, he played in 80 games, made 96 tackles and lasted in a joining distant over a normal career span.

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images

“I always suspicion he was a glue of a team,” pronounced Matt Hasselbeck, his former teammate who wrote a foreword to his book . “In Tennessee we always suspicion he was that man on a verge of creation a group or not creation a group … yet nonetheless he was such an critical partial of a team, a group wouldn’t have been a group yet him. My initial year there he was a captain of a special teams. He usually was a personality by example.”

Now, 3 years after being diagnosed with ALS, Shaw’s goals are elementary — yet even some-more meaningful, he says.

The lavatory with Shaw’s whiteboard sits  next to his bedroom on a initial building of a residence he changed into with his relatives shortly after his diagnosis. His bed is unmade, to a fear of his mom, who didn’t comprehend that there were going to be visitors.

“The whiteboard is where we always used to have goals created so that whiteboard is right now where I’m at,” Shaw said. “I’m unequivocally struggling with walking. I’m struggling with talking, so those dual things we wish to be during a forefront of my mind any day. If I’m walking, it’s a good day. I’ve been descending a lot. we tell people if I’m falling, I’m still walking so unequivocally elementary goals, unequivocally elementary mindset. So that’s where we am in my life right now.

Tim's father, John, helps him get dressed.(Christopher Hanewinckel USA TODAY Sports Images)

Tim’s father, John, helps him get dressed.(Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports Images)

“I fun with people infrequently when they say, ‘What are we are we posterior right now?’ we tell them, ‘Today, I’m usually vital not to tumble over.’ It’s a joke, yet not really.”

Shaw was diagnosed with ALS, also famous as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2014. ALS evenly kills engine neurons that go from a mind to a spinal cord to muscles via a body. The some-more a neurons die, a reduction patients can control a muscles in their body.

His diagnosis came a year a ice bucket plea was renouned and that’s how he announced it to a universe – by transfer a bucket of cold H2O over his conduct and vowing to fight. A series of Titans players assimilated him, promising to mount by his side. Shaw, during a time, seemed carefree about what he could do to impact a quarrel opposite a disease.

By a finish of a Ice Bucket Challenge, a ALS Association had lifted over $100 million, that according to Calaneet Balas, a association’s executive clamp boss of strategy, has resulted in promising breakthroughs that could one day assistance people like Shaw. “We’ve  invested $77 million in investigate and that’s where we’re going to see large effects,” she said. “We’ve identified 4 genetic mutations that are indicated in ALS, so that gives a lot of targets that we’ve never had before.”

Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports Images

Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports Images

The Challenge also did a lot for recognition about a disease. But there stays no cure, and even a many poignant breakthroughs are doubtful to lead to changes in how ALS is treated anytime soon. Shaw has not mislaid hope, yet he now wakes adult any day wondering what plea he’ll be confronting from his solemnly deteriorating body.

Compared to many patients, Shaw has a lot of resources, yet that hasn’t meant many for negligence a march of a disease. His discuss has spin some-more slurred and it seems burdensome for him to talk. His hands can’t hold a golf bar yet help. His walking is also affected. There’s an conveyor that goes from a garage of his residence to a initial building and a wheelchair that he resisted removing in a initial place waits there for when his legs stop working. There are days when his mom has to brush his teeth for him, and he drinks H2O out of a Penn State crater with a lid and straw to safeguard he does not choke.

“One of a hardest things for me was conference him start to remove a duty of his unchanging voice,” pronounced Hasselbeck. “It strike me flattering tough actually. Just given I’ve famous him as such a tough guy. We used to do this CrossFit-type examination thing … it was fundamentally a 2,000 scale quarrel with a partner. It would be, like, we dual opposite another two. we would always wish Tim as my partner given he was so so good during it and usually so clever and usually when it was your spin to quarrel your 1000 meters he was fundamentally like a coxswain, usually screaming during you, ‘You got it. Let’s go.’ And he was so strong. And conference him start to remove his unchanging voice, it harm a small bit.”

But that doesn’t meant Shaw’s giving adult — or even negligence down much.

 *     *     *

Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports Images

Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s 9:30 on a Wednesday morning and Shaw is ecstatic.

He’s already had a breakthrough usually 20 minutes into his doctrine during a Nashville-area golf facility, GolfTEC, where he’s been operative with an instructor on his swing. The instructor, Andrew Braley, has been examination video replays of any pitch Shaw takes.  After a few, Braley advises him to try removing his arms a small aloft adult on a backswing. And it’s working.

Shaw has to consider delicately about how he wants his physique to move, and a pitch requires more effort, yet he finally gets his arms adult and hits a round with his 7-iron perfectly. He watches as a round thuds opposite a shade in front of him, afterwards as an electric chronicle of it slides opposite a make-believe on a TV’s putting immature for a sum of 75 hard-earned yards – a new record that cracked his new best by 10 yards.

“I don’t know if we know this about me, Andrew,” Shaw pronounced as a photographer shot a lesson, “but when a cameras are on, I’m during my best.”

Christopher Hanewinckel/ USA TODAY Sports Images

Christopher Hanewinckel/ USA TODAY Sports Images

Braley laughed. “You got a small some-more grit today,” he said.

Shaw’s been personification golf given he was 13 yet started going to Braley after his pitch run-down final year. “My diversion started disappearing and we thought, ‘Oh, there’s substantially some things we could do differently,” he said. It was an critical time to get his diversion during a peak: In 2016, he went on a discuss of some of a world’s best golf courses, including Augusta National, Cypress Point Club, Spyglass, Shinnecock Hills and Pebble Beach.

His favorite, he pronounced was Shinnecock Hills. “It’s usually opposite than any other march I’ve ever played,” he said. “It’s beautiful. Very small volume of trees yet it had 3-foot high hazards around any hole. There were a lot of good views on that course, it was usually a cool, singular place.”

On a post on Instagram of a trip, that was in July, he wrote in a heading “Some days are tough yet some days are easy,” adding a hashtags “#swingeasy, #golf, #latergram.”

(Christopher Hanewinckel USA TODAY Sports Images)

(Christopher Hanewinckel USA TODAY Sports Images)

In a heading from his outing to Cypress Point, he called it paradise. “I don’t call it a bucket list yet CP should be in any golfers bucket,” he wrote. “Worth any second.”

He loves golf and tries to strike a links as many as he can and Braley works with him to use a muscles that are still functioning to urge his swing.

“I like being coached,” he explains, a view that creates clarity for a man who spent 7 years in a NFL and played 3 sports as a child flourishing adult in Michigan. “It’s cold to have someone say, ‘Hey, can we move your arms here like that?’ and we do it and it’s like, ‘Oh, demeanour during that.’”

Later, we’re sitting around his residence and Shaw’s financial confidant calls. After a brief review about medical and business losses Shaw dives into a critical news of a day: His golf game.

ALS will eventually hinder Shaw’s muscles to a indicate that a man who could take down a toughest, biggest, strongest players in a NFL will no longer be means to pitch a club. His diversion is already diminished, yet he’s not about to stop rabble articulate usually about everybody he competence have a destiny date with on a golf course.

He’ll gloat about a 75-yard strike on a computerized shade because, to him, it is an feat value cheering about.

“Every day is a good day given Tim creates it one,” his dad, John Shaw, says.

 *     *     *

The concepts of hope, environment goals and achieving success are things that Shaw discusses often in Blitz Your Life, that took him about dual years to finish and was expelled progressing this year. He knows that it’s expected people will review it given he was once a veteran football actor — after all, that’s since we flew out to Nashville to pronounce to him about it — yet other than how his tricks for life helped him grasp his goals in that competition and in business, it’s not unequivocally about that during all. It’s about following your dreams, being an particular and moving others.

Shaw wanted to continue inspiring. He’s incompetent to do many of the things that he used to do, like transport to Haiti to assistance kids in need there.

“I wish to concentration on a positives,” he said. “I could have created a book about all of a things I’ve seen in a NFL, a shameful things, injuries and all that yet to me that wouldn’t have helped anyone. The book is to uplift, a book is to motivate, a book is to propel someone forward.”

Shaw’s attribute with football — that is everywhere in house, from diversion balls proudly displayed on a shelf, to a books about a diversion on a bookshelf in a vital room — is complicated. He’s impossibly beholden to a Titans, who have upheld him given his diagnosis.

Three years after personification his final game, he went behind to assistance out a team last deteriorate after their special teams coordinator was dismissed after a few games. He watched fasten and gathered weekly reports. He also, as he wrote in his book, granted a bit of inspiration. Before a deteriorate began he was invited to a team’s trickery to pronounce to a players. The discuss was so inspirational that one actor began essay Shaw’s name on a tip of his cover any day.

USA TODAY Sports Images

USA TODAY Sports Images

“Tim Shaw had a outrageous impact for this football team,” Titans manager Mike Mularkey pronounced during a finish of a season. “When we brought him in here in training stay and he spoke to this team, we suspicion that day, ‘This deteriorate was going to be different.’ we suspicion that day that something special was going to occur with this football team. we know he had a outrageous impact on my life. He finished me different.”

Hasselbeck forked out that a Titans welcomed Shaw behind notwithstanding carrying a totally opposite front bureau than when he played there.

“New president, new GM, new conduct manager — zero of those people were even there when he was a player,” Hasselbeck said. “Yet they still respected him and invited him behind to a group in such an implausible way. I’ve gifted itself, when we leave a place, no matter how prolonged we were there if a group president, a GM, a manager weren’t there when we were putting your physique on a line, they don’t unequivocally know we … yet (the Titans) have positively embraced him.”

His attribute with a joining front bureau though, is different. He wanted to pronounce to a NFL about how it uses a immeasurable resources now, anticipating to make certain a joining focused on actor reserve and assisting players after they’re retired.


In 2015, he reached out to a NFL front bureau to see if he could set adult a assembly with Roger Goodell, a league’s commissioner. He hoped to pronounce about his knowledge and what some-more could be done. Goodell didn’t lapse his calls. At a time, NFL orator Brian McCarthy told For The Win “The Commissioner has been tied adult with a joining assembly and a (Tom) Brady hearing. He has not had a probability to respond.”

When contacted final week after we visited Shaw, McCarthy took a censure for unwell to bond Shaw and Goodell, and pronounced a NFL had reached out to a Titans to foster a contention (a Titans orator reliable that).

Before a joining reached out, Shaw pronounced he had already changed on.

“I don’t know if it’s critical for me pronounce to [Goodell] anymore given we don’t have wish that he will do many or anything about a business of football,” he said. “I’m not blaming him for anything, either, yet we do consider a lot of people are blind about what football is and how a diversion affects a players. we consider some-more and some-more investigate needs to be finished for a players so that some-more and some-more players can make prepared decisions for their possess lives.”

Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports Images

Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports Images

When asked what he would say to a Commissioner, Shaw pronounced he usually wanted him to know about a struggles of his players and former players. It’s not usually him, he said. Many players are timid early out of fear that they’ll finish adult like many late players who are struggling with things like mental health issues.

“I consider that they need a personal sip of existence to be means to apart from a large design of, ‘This is business, this is football,’ ” he said. “How about, ‘This is life, and we can do better.’ ”

The NFL has finished things directed during creation a diversion safer – including updating a concussion custom and changing tackle manners to discharge head-first hits. It has given many millions for neuroscience investigate and has worked closely with another former actor with ALS, New Orleans Saints favourite Steve Gleason. There’s no approach justification joining ALS to personification football, yet a 2012 essay in Neurology found that NFL veterans were 4 times as expected to get ALS than a ubiquitous race (besides Gleason, the other good famous box is former fullback Kevin Turner, a lead plaintiff in a concussion lawsuit who died final Nov during age 46).

But Shaw thinks they can do more, even yet he acknowledges there is not explanation ALS is caused directly by personification football. He and his family do consider that a illness was presumably brought on by a multiple of genetics and his football career, yet they have no proof.

When asked about this theory, Balas, from a ALS Association, pronounced there’s only anecdotal justification linking contact sports and neuromuscular diseases, but work is being finished to figure out what a specific triggers that means diseases like ALS are. In a NFL’s allotment with former players in a concussion lawsuit, some former players were awarded adult to $5 million if they had ALS.

Shaw has no regrets. He would take zero back.

“To be means to play a diversion as prolonged as we did was a gift,” he said.

 *     *      *

It’s been a prolonged day already — by Shaw’s stream standards — between a golf, a photoshoot for an beginning he’s lending his face to and hosting a contributor in his house.  Around 1 p.m. his eyes start to nictitate as he fights to keep a review going while he’s watchful for his lunch to finish cooking. It’s a sheer sign of a strength that a illness swipes out of him on a daily basis.
But he’s dynamic to finish articulate about list of places he has skeleton to revisit this year. Michigan and Penn State to foster his book. California. South Africa with a friend.

They’re not a usually things he’s looking brazen to.

He’s looking brazen to improving his golf swing, even as it leaves him. He’s dynamic to accomplish a goals he sets on his whiteboard, no matter how elementary they are. He’s dynamic to save a subsequent era from ALS, even if it competence be too late to save himself. He wants to make a diversion he loves safer, even if it has taken too prolonged for a NFL to acknowledge his request. He wants a Titans to make it into a playoffs, given he never did as a player. He wants people to review his book, even if they mostly caring about him as a football player, given he’s certain they’ll describe to a life lessons he tucked into those pages.


He wants to fist all into a days his physique has left, even if he acknowledges a illness has forced him to delayed down, usually a bit.

“We can have these large elaborate skeleton and we wish all these good things in life, yet infrequently it’s simple,” he said. “Sometimes what’s many critical is, ‘Today we usually wish to do a right thing.’ So that’s what we mean. My life can be unequivocally formidable yet it can be unequivocally simple. we usually wish to not tumble over today. I’m so thankful, I’m in a unequivocally cold theatre of life where I’m teetering to where I’m not so fun yet right now we have an overwhelming life. we travel, we play extraordinary golf. we have money, we have freedom.

“I have a ability and we commend that many people with ALS do not. First of all they decrease a lot some-more fast and so physically they can’t do much. So we usually commend a position I’m in. My life is great. Except for this one small thing that so happens to impact all else. But we also contend if we can usually stay right where we am, we could figure it out. But I’m teetering on this indicate where I’m going to need a lot some-more assistance and things are going to get a lot harder. It’s usually a unequivocally engaging and unequivocally formidable place to be. Life is so good. Can we live in a impulse adequate to suffer it or am we looking brazen to what is substantially going to happen?”

Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports Images

Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports Images

Last month, Shaw flew to Israel to get bone pith extracted as partial of an initial treatment.

The branch cells were private from his bone pith and afterwards cultivated in a lab. Last week, he flew behind to Israel to have them injected into his spinal canal.

The procedure, Shaw and his family believe, is a best hope for some arrange of service from a illness – zero else has unequivocally been effective so far. Shaw has authorised himself to get his hopes up, yet not too much.

“I consider there’s not a lot of wish out there,” he said. “So when we hear, when we see something that has good formula and could be potentially unequivocally good, we have to adhere to that. But I’ve been struggling with how many wish do we concede yourself to have. Do we wish for a small bit of service or do we wish for a spectacle of life?

“Even, what do we urge for? Do we ask God to take it divided or do we say, ‘Let me use my hands a small more.’ So that’s a unequivocally genuine debate. But wish is a humorous thing.

“Because we need to have hope, even if we demeanour during us as a republic there’s things we don’t like, we need to trust in a probability for change or a probability for better. Because if we don’t have that hope, we tumble into despair.

“But if we concede yourself to wish it can expostulate we to good things. But afterwards that wish is squandered. So we put my wish in these branch cells and if zero happens, what will that do to me? But yeah we do have a lot of hope. And I’m selecting to concede myself to have wish given if it doesn’t work, we meant I’m right behind to where we am now. And yeah, that will be disappointing, yet a whole thing is disappointing.”

(Click here to buy Shaw’s book)

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