NEWPORT, R.I. — The other day, Ray Allen caught his son under the table eating M&M candies. Not a big deal for most 21-month-olds, but Walker Allen has diabetes.
“His [blood sugar] levels went through the roof,” Allen said last Wednesday after the Celtics practiced at Salve Regina University. “So we have to keep a close eye on him.”
Ray Allen was in the middle of the NBA Finals when he learned that his son had juvenile diabetes, a life-threatening but treatable disease. Allen stayed in Los Angeles after Game 5 while his teammates returned to Boston, then joined them in time for the Game 6 victory over the Lakers that clinched the Celtics’ 17th NBA title.
It wasn’t until later that Allen could come down off the adrenaline rush of the championship series and turn his attention to his son’s disease. He and his wife Shannon met with doctors and nurses, and spent a lot of time getting back to the people who had expressed their support.
“It probably took a week and a half for us to get out of basketball mode and really focus on his needs,” Allen said last Wednesday after Boston’s second practice of training camp. “It was the biggest stage I’ve ever been on. Everybody’s congratulating you. I was thinking, ‘Do I even care about what I’m doing, because I’m running the risk of losing my son?’”
Walker first showed signs of the illness after the family flew to Los Angeles for Game 3 of the finals. He started vomiting the next day, but his parents wrote that off to jet lag; when he got sick again two days later, and again two days after that, they went to the doctor.
Walker was also very thirsty, and his diaper was always wet — telltale signs of the illness.
“When you’re thinking about a disease, all you’re thinking about is that it’s life-threatening,” Allen said. But he’s since learned about all the people who have managed to regulate their blood sugar levels; some argue that managing one’s insulin from such a young age teaches children responsibility that carries into other aspects of their lives.
Walker Allen isn’t yet 2, but already he’s learning to adjust. He has expressed a preference for shots in his rear end, evidently less painful than the other options: the arm or leg.
When he sees the bag with the medicine come out, Walker runs away, but “he’s taking the insulin shots pretty well,” Allen said.
Though Ray Allen has his hands full with Walker and the matter of trying to win a second straight NBA title, he and his wife are doing what they can to fight the disease. About 50 of their friends and family will be joining the “Walk for Walker” team on Saturday at the nationwide “Walk to Cure Diabetes” to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“Amidst all the wonderful things that have happened to our family this year we were also faced with a difficult challenge in discovering that our baby, Walker, was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes,” Shannon Allen wrote at the page soliciting donations. “Thank God, Walker is growing stronger every day, but unfortunately, so is juvenile diabetes.”
Ray Allen won’t be able to attend, but Shannon has received more than $20,000 in online pledges for her walk. Among those contributing are Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, coach Doc Rivers and teammate Kevin Garnett.
“We’re just trying to raise awareness of juvenile diabetes, hopefully find a cure so kids don’t have to go through this,” the basketball player said. “Most parents don’t know the symptoms of childhood diabetes. Kids have died because they didn’t know.”
The Boston Celtics earned a "rolling rally" celebration with an
amazing comeback season topped off by a stunningly dominant 131-92 win
over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. It was the Celtics' first title without Red Auerbach, the team
patriarch who died in October 2006 after being part of the other 16
championships, nine as coach. The cigars smoked by players and fans
were a tribute to Auerbach’s custom of lighting one up on the bench in
the waning moments of still another win. More »
The Boston Celtics earned a "rolling rally" celebration with an amazing comeback season topped off by a stunningly dominant 131-92 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. It was the Celtics' first title without Red Auerbach, the team patriarch who died in October 2006 after being part of the other 16 championships, nine as coach. The cigars smoked by players and fans were a tribute to Auerbach’s custom of lighting one up on the bench in the waning moments of still another win. More »
Way back before Game 1 of the 2008 NBA Finals tipped off, the Banner looked ahead to the hotly anticipated matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. More »
Diabetic children who spent the most time glued to the TV had a tougher time controlling their blood sugar, according to a Norwegian study that illustrates yet another downside of watching too much television. More »