Adam Morrison, pro ball & T1DM
Ammo's college highlights
About 20 percent of kids with T1DM find out they have the disease as a result of being treated for diabetic ketoacidosis, a severe condition in which blood sugar is extremely high and ketones poison the blood. NBA free agent and former Gonzaga superstar Adam
Ammo Morrison was one of those kids. In 8th grader he tumbled from 130 pounds to 100, and felt more and more ill as the days passed.
Morrison's parents, John and Wanda Morrison, have clear memories of the day they learned Adam has T1DM: May 2, 1999.
Adam Morrison, pro hoops player
Morrison, star of Gonzag
Adam Morrison, during his short stint at the Lakers
He struggled at a basketball camp, could barely run, so his parents booked a doctor's appointment. Wanda says,
We knew that we were predisposed as a family to diabetes, so we watched for it closely.
Morrison has diabetics on both sides of his family tree. His maternal grandmother, Mae Hames, died at 51 of diabetes-related complications, and his paternal great-grandfather, Jim Morrison, lost a leg from diabetes.
High blood sugar
I knew in my heart, Wanda adds.
The call came within hours of taking his blood sample: 'Get Adam to the hospital now!' Anyone who has a fasting glucose level above 125 is considered a diabetic. Adam's was 865.
In hospital, he was treated with insulin and was given fluids and vital minerals such as potassium to replace those he had lost from the ketoacidosis.
For a few days I thought I was going to die, Morrison says.
I weighed so little, and my blood sugar was so high. But then I figured out I can still be active and get used to it. His specialist, Dr. Ken Cathcart, made it clear from the start: Diabetes is not a death sentence.
Morrison's case illustrates how kids can be sick for a long time before they or their parents seek help. He exhibited all the classic symptoms of ketoacidosis: weight loss; fatigue; extreme thirst; the need to urinate much more than usual.
Morrison is straightforward about his condition.
I'm just a normal player with something on the side, he says.
I've never said, 'I have diabetes, so I can't bust my ass on this play.'
During his time at Gonzaga, Morrison was one of the best and most-highly regarded college players. Unfortunately, his NBA career has not taken off as well as he'd hoped. After stints with the Bobcats, Lakers, and Wizards, he is now a free agent.
Despite the setbacks, there is one big positive to the story. Morrison's diabetes is not blamed for his failure to shine in the NBA. Critics say he doesn't want success badly enough, that he lacks athleticism, that his defensive game is below par.
But hardly any of them mention diabetes. That is progress, and it's exactly what Morrison would want.
By David Hay Jones, with thanks to Sports Illustrated