Saturday, August 6, 2011
Where inspiration happens.
By Tim David Harvey
This is the story of a player who deserves ink not just because of the tragic circumstances that he has endured, but because of his heroic contributions to the game of basketball also.
Those famous dreadlocks are whipping emphatically as he enters the paint, and just like his game his style can't be tamed. He bounces the ball at the baseline with authority, but also with grace, (the kind of grace that only comes from those 6,9, 254 pound power forwards who can also play center) he spins around Shaquille O'Neal and forces his way inside for 2 points. Just a pair of points on the box score for the Portland Trail Blazers, but an energy boost and a statement to Shaq's Lakers that Richard Pryor would be proud of, 'We aint dead yet'! Back in 2000 the Lakers may have had Shaq and Kobe and an almost clear run to the championship but the Trailblazers had enthusiasm, hustle and heart and nobody epitomized those characteristics on the Blazers roster more than Brian Grant did.
That's why you know that even in his current tragic situation he will fight through, just like Michael J. Fox, Muhammad Ali and countless other strong willed Parkinson disease fighters. He's spent his whole life being a strong, courageous guy and although are thoughts have been with him in this terribly testing time we know that there aren't many out there as heroic as he is.
Giving his all to every team he played for from the Sacramento Kings to the Los Angeles Lakers. Doing the little things on the court in a big way, with a soul almighty like his inspiration the late Bob Marley, pardon me the great Bob Marley. Like his inspiration Brian Grant will not be put down, he will 'light up the darkness' and with support from another musical icon, his best friend Raphael Saadiq, B. Grant has all the best people behind him, but it's his own depression beating, head high inner strength that will drive him forward. This is why the same man who has had to deal with the shock of having young-onset Parkinson's since the young age of 37 is not just solely focused on himself but has started all sorts of campaigns to raise the awareness of Parkinson's disease like his 'Shake It Till We Make It' foundation. This is a man who-without fear-stands face to face with any opponent whether they are more skilled like Chris Webber, much bigger like Shaquille O'Neal, or a disease as crippling as this.
He never backed down from an almost impossible challenge and he will face down this opponent. He is not the type of man that lies down and takes it. This is why the aptly nicknamed 'General' is taking charge of this disease, changing his diet and even his daily routines including the toothpaste he uses to try and reduce these tremors. He wants to master this disease and control his body that he has conditioned over his career to deal with the trees of the Western Conference forest. With the advice of Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox and the support of his loved ones he's making sure this disease wont beat him.
A few years back when Grant was interviewed about his announcement of the disorder, (despite the clear emotion that comes with an ordeal like this) he possessed the spirit of a warrior and still looked like the same man who wowed the Rose Garden with his hustle plays and thunderous dunks many seasons past. In his home, next to a portrait of Bob Marley proudly hangs a jersey from each of the teams Grant has suited up and gone to battle for. As proud as Brian is to have played for these teams, these teams are all proud that Brian was once a vital part of their unit. A real promising start in Sacramento, a warrior at his peak and a major contributor in Portland, a career year in Miami, a big, emotionally charged contributor on a Los Angeles Lakers roster that back then so desperately needed one and a continuing of that irreplaceable, invaluable blue collar work in Phoenix. One of the West's best in recent decades, Brian went from being one of the Laker's worst opponents to face to one of their best role-players to place.
Whether it be making the All-Rookie first team in 94-95, or his great rebounding and field goal percentages, Brian Grant had the facts and figures to back up the great things that are said about him. Still, however it's the immeasurable amount of energy that he brought to the teams he played for and the amount of heart that could never be quantified that made him the player, pardon me the man he was in the league. It's the attitude that still carries today, in his darkest hour he's still that same man. As he puts it best, his way of dealing with this disease is simple, "Just me believing in a positive spirit will take me farther in the long run". You know these words are as strong and true as his contributions to the game of basketball. We wish you all the best Brian.