Basketball legend Dominique Wilkins

Basketball legend Dominique Wilkins’ story.

Basketball legend Dominique Wilkins’ story

Twenty-three years ago, shortly after retiring from his stellar NBA career, Dominique Wilkins, then 40, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Though he had a strong family history of the disease, the diagnosis came as a total shock to the active athlete and former Hawks player nicknamed the “Human Highlight Film.” Not wasting any time, Wilkins jumped into action to manage the condition.

“I looked at diabetes like another opponent that I was going to compete with,” Wilkins says. “I found all the options I could to manage it and live an easier and healthier life. I lost 35 pounds in 2.5 months and kept it off all these years.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 38.4 million people, including adults and children, in the U.S. have diabetes. Type 2 is the most prevalent (90-95% of cases) form and can lead to heart problems, neuropathy, amputations, blindness and other issues if left unmanaged. Being overweight and inactive is the primary risk factor for this kind of diabetes.

Here, Wilkins discusses his experiences and provides advice.

Who is at risk for getting Type 2 diabetes?

No one is exempt from it. Everybody in every walk of life is affected by it. But research shows that African Americans, Asians and Hispanics are more susceptible to getting diabetes. Family history and genes count for a lot.

Why is it important for you to speak out about the disease?

I’ve been doing diabetes awareness for 15 years. It started when I found out that I was a diabetic after I retired from basketball. My father and grandfather died from it, and it’s been in our family for a long time. My brother was just diagnosed with it, too. I’m trying to help raise awareness through education so that people make lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, and learn how to manage the disease so it doesn’t get worse.

How did you discover that you had diabetes?

I had blurred vision, and at first, I thought I was just getting old! I also had frequent urination and fatigue all the time. I wasn’t sick, but I didn’t feel well. I went to the doctor, and they told me, “The good news is you’re not dying; the bad news is you’re diabetic and have to make lifestyle changes right now.”

What are some changes you’ve made since your diagnosis?

I’ve taken some things out of my diet like orange juice, which I haven’t had in 20 years, and added other things like green vegetables and salads. When I was first learning to manage diabetes, I counted carbs. You can still have your steak every now and then. I’m also very physically active. For me, that’s walking a lot, and I lift weights and work on my strength. Also, I did my research on medication and supplements. A couple side effects I experienced from taking diabetes medicine were nausea and GI issues. I was introduced to the PeptideVite supplement by Zen Nutrients that helps me tremendously manage both.

How did those changes help?

I felt better immediately. My vision cleared up after starting medication, even though it’s still a little blurred because of the damage that was done when it went unchecked.

What’s your top tip for people who have diabetes?

It’s not a curse. It’s an obstacle in the road, and you can manage it. There are things in life that slow you down but are not meant to stop you. Stand above it by educating yourself and managing your disease to the level and quality of life you are trying to achieve.


PHOTO: Erik Meadows

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