Prashant Kumar

List of Famous People With Parkinson Disease

Across history, Parkinson’s disease has touched the lives of remarkable individuals from various walks of life. From athletes to entertainers, their stories reveal resilience and determination in the face of adversity. Let’s journey through the lives of some well-known figures who have grappled with this neurological condition. Ever wondered how these iconic personalities navigated their careers while battling Parkinson’s disease?

What Is Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder affecting movement due to the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Symptoms include tremors, slowed movement, stiffness, and balance problems. While there’s no cure, treatments like medication, therapy, and sometimes surgery can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that typically manifests with a variety of motor and non-motor symptoms. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Tremors: Involuntary shaking, often starting in the hands or fingers.
  • Bradykinesia: Slowed movement, which can make simple tasks difficult and time-consuming.
  • Muscle rigidity: Stiffness or inflexibility in the muscles, which can affect mobility and cause discomfort.
  • Postural instability: Difficulty maintaining balance and coordination, leading to frequent falls or stumbling.
  • Changes in handwriting: Handwriting may become smaller and more difficult to read (micrographia).
  • Speech changes: Speaking may become softer, slurred, or monotone.
  • Decreased arm swing: Arms may not swing naturally while walking.
  • Stooped posture: A tendency to lean forward while standing or walking.
  • Freezing: Momentary inability to move, especially when initiating movement or navigating through tight spaces.
  • Masked facial expression: Reduced facial expressions, giving a “masked” appearance.
  • Sleep disturbances: Such as insomnia, restless legs syndrome, or vivid dreams.
  • Cognitive changes: Some individuals may experience difficulties with memory, attention, and other cognitive functions.
  • Depression and anxiety: Emotional changes are common and can range from mild to severe.
  • Constipation: Digestive issues, including constipation, are common in Parkinson’s disease.
  • Loss of smell: Decreased ability to smell or loss of smell altogether (anosmia).

Here is the list of celebrities with Parkinson disease

Brian Grant

Brian Grant is a retired American professional basketball player. As per an interview with ESPN, he received a diagnosis of early-onset Parkinson’s disease in January 2009, subsequent to his retirement from professional basketball. Following this, he established the Brian Grant Foundation, aimed at increasing awareness and encouraging individuals with Parkinson’s disease to integrate exercise into their treatment regimen.

In 2021, Grant released a memoir detailing his NBA career and his journey coping with Parkinson’s disease.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, an American professional boxer and advocate, encountered significant trials throughout his career until his retirement in 1981. In 1984, medical professionals diagnosed Ali with Parkinson’s disease, marking a new chapter in his life. To address the challenges posed by this condition, Ali, alongside philanthropist Jimmy Walker and Dr. Abraham Lieberman, established the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center for Movement Disorders. This center, located at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, serves as a valuable hub offering support and resources for individuals and families affected by Parkinson’s, as well as other movement disorders such as Huntington’s disease and essential tremor.

Ali had a longstanding connection with the annual fundraising gala for the Barrow Neurological Institute, known as Celebrity Fight Night, where he played a prominent role. This commitment to raising awareness extended to his family, as evidenced by his daughter Rasheda Ali’s book aimed at children, titled “I’ll Hold Your Hand so You Won’t Fall: A Child’s Guide to Parkinson’s Disease.”

Muhammad Ali passed away in June 2016 at the age of 74, leaving behind a legacy of courage and compassion.

Ben Petrick

Ben Petrick is a former American Major League Baseball player. He has also authored a book titled Forty Thousand to One, which partly alludes to the roughly 40,000 Americans diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease annually. The book delves into his challenges balancing his career in Major League Baseball with managing Parkinson’s disease, a condition that also affected his father, Vern.

Ozzy Osbourne

English musician and media personality John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne disclosed his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis during a heartfelt conversation with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America in 2020. Alongside his wife Sharon, Osbourne acknowledged his diagnosis, which came after a string of health challenges.

“I find it difficult to keep things hidden,” the renowned musician admitted. “I can’t continue concealing it because I’m running out of explanations.”

His Parkinson’s diagnosis coincided with a significant fall and subsequent neck surgery. Following these events, Osbourne began experiencing numbness and cold sensations in one arm and both legs. “I’m uncertain if it’s due to Parkinson’s or something else,” he reflected. “It’s an unusual sensation.”

Reflecting on his condition in a subsequent interview with The Observer, Osbourne remarked, “You believe you’re lifting your feet, but they remain still. It feels as though I’m walking with heavy boots on.”

Michael J. Fox

Michael Andrew Fox, also professionally known as Michael J. Fox, is an activist and retired actor from Canada and the United States. Fox received his diagnosis at the age of 30, yet he persevered with determination.

In 1998, he bravely disclosed his diagnosis of young-onset Parkinson’s disease to the public and established the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research two years later. Fox remains dedicated to advancing awareness of Parkinson’s disease through the foundation, as well as raising funds for research aimed at prevention, treatment, and ultimately, finding a cure. Alongside his advocacy efforts, he continues his acting career, taking on roles that feature characters with Parkinson’s disease, as seen in TV shows like The Good Wife and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

In a 2013 interview with AARP, Fox humorously remarked, “As long as I portray a character with Parkinson’s, I’m capable of anything.”

Neil Diamond

Neil Leslie Diamond, an esteemed American singer-songwriter, made the announcement in 2018 of his retirement from touring due to a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. This revelation occurred amidst his 50th anniversary tour, prompting the cancellation of forthcoming concert dates in Australia and New Zealand. Expressing regret and reluctance, Diamond conveyed through his official website statement, “It is with considerable reluctance and sadness that I announce my withdrawal from concert touring. I have had the privilege of sharing my performances with audiences for the past five decades.”

Despite this decision, Diamond assured his supporters of his intention to persist in composing and recording music. However, he clarified that he would no longer perform live in front of audiences. Throughout his illustrious career, Diamond has produced several hits including “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” “Sweet Caroline,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Song Sung Blue,” and “Red, Red Wine.”

Recognized for his contributions to music, Diamond was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 and honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Grammy Awards ceremony.

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt, a versatile American singer renowned for her performances across various music genres including rock, country, light opera, the Great American Songbook, and Latin music, disclosed her Parkinson’s disease diagnosis to AARP The Magazine in 2013. She attributed her health decline to two severe tick bites in the 1980s, which she believes never fully healed. However, she only sought medical attention from a neurologist when her ability to sing became severely impaired.

Initially, Ronstadt struggled to understand the cause of her vocal difficulties, attributing them to muscular or mechanical issues. It was only upon receiving the Parkinson’s diagnosis that she grasped the underlying reason for her condition. She candidly admitted to AARP, “I now realize that singing with Parkinson’s disease is simply impossible. Regardless of one’s efforts. Personally, I am unable to produce a single note.”

Subsequently, it emerged that her initial diagnosis might have been incomplete. During a conversation with Anderson Cooper in December 2019, Ronstadt clarified that a more recent evaluation identified her as having a subtype of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) called PSP-parkinsonism (PSP-P). PSP is a degenerative brain disorder sharing several symptoms with Parkinson’s disease. Unlike typical PSP, PSP-P manifests tremors akin to those seen in Parkinson’s disease, shedding light on the initial diagnostic error.

Freddie Roach

Frederick Roach is an American boxing trainer and a former professional boxer. Despite managing Parkinson’s disease with medication, Roach remains dedicated to his work as a trainer. Diagnosed at the age of 27, he operates the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, where he trains renowned boxers like Amir Khan, Manny Pacquiao, Mark Wahlberg, and Georges St. Pierre.

Even though Parkinson’s has presented challenges such as slurred speech and tremors in his left arm, Roach’s passion for boxing remains undiminished. In a 2015 CBS interview, he expressed, “I’m in the gym every day; it’s a vital part of my life. Instead of taking vacations, I find fulfillment in what I do. My getaway is right here.”

Alan Alda

Alan Alda, a multi-talented American individual involved in acting, writing, comedy, and directing, revealed his Parkinson’s diagnosis during an appearance on the CBS This Morning TV news show in July 2018. Since then, he has emphasized the importance of exercise in maintaining a positive outlook. Alda shared in a 2019 interview with Today that engaging in various exercises can potentially slow down the progression of the disease. He mentioned activities such as boxing, juggling, tennis, swimming, marching, and biking among his routines.

In confirming his diagnosis on Twitter, Alda expressed his optimism and motivation for sharing his condition publicly. He stated, “I chose to disclose my Parkinson’s diagnosis to inspire others to take proactive steps.” He further elaborated on his active lifestyle, mentioning his continued involvement in acting, public speaking engagements, and hosting his beloved podcast. His message to those facing similar challenges was clear: persistence and activity are essential components in navigating such circumstances.

Billy Connolly

Sir William Connolly CBE, a Scottish retired entertainer known for his diverse talents in comedy, acting, art, music, and television hosting, continued his career post his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2013, at the age of 70. Connolly, celebrated for his spontaneous and colorful comedic style, learned of his condition during a chance encounter with a doctor in a hotel lobby, who recognized the early signs of the neurological disorder. Despite this diagnosis, Connolly persisted in his performances both on stage and screen until his retirement from live shows in 2018.

In an interview with The Chris Evans Breakfast Show With Sky on Virgin Radio in October 2018, Connolly openly discussed his diagnosis and the challenges of maintaining a positive outlook. Reflecting on his experience, he shared an encounter with a doctor in New York who labeled Parkinson’s as incurable. Connolly, however, urged for a more optimistic perspective, suggesting that instead of focusing on the disease’s incurability, one should emphasize the ongoing search for a cure. He advocated for maintaining hope and seeing a glimmer of possibility even in the face of daunting diagnoses.

Janet Reno

Janet Reno, an American lawyer and public official, notably served as the first female and 78th United States attorney general. In 1995, at the age of 55, she received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, shortly after her appointment to the cabinet position. Reno candidly shared her experience, mentioning during a press conference that she initially dismissed her symptoms, attributing them to temporary causes.

Despite her health challenges, Reno managed her condition with medication. Despite the progression of Parkinson’s, she made a memorable appearance as herself in a 2013 episode of The Simpsons, presiding over a trial involving Bart Simpson as the defendant.

In November 2016, Reno passed away at the age of 78.

Bob Hoskins

Robert Hoskins, an accomplished English actor and film director, was renowned for his nuanced depictions of robust characters. In 2012, he made public his retirement due to Parkinson’s disease, expressing a struggle with the decision in an interview with Saga Magazine. Despite his efforts to retire gracefully, he admitted facing challenges. Following his retirement, he prioritized embracing a healthier lifestyle outside of acting.

Hoskins passed away in April 2014 at the age of 71.

Michael Richard Clifford

Michael Richard Clifford served as both a United States Army officer and a NASA astronaut. Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in 1994, he persevered in his career. Clifford was 42 years old and seemingly healthy when he first noticed symptoms of Parkinson’s, initially experiencing difficulty with his right arm and hand movements. In 2012, he was honored with the Public Leadership in Neurology Award by the American Academy of Neurology for his efforts in raising awareness about Parkinson’s disease and inspiring those affected by it to pursue their aspirations.

In an interview with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Clifford remarked, “Everyone copes with PD differently. Don’t allow it to hinder your life. Life offers too many opportunities. Remember to persevere—the possibilities are endless.”

Clifford passed away on December 28, 2021, at the age of 69.

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