By Special to the Daily World
If we are to believe in the Chinese concept of “Tao,” or the natural order of things, it would follow that Tyler Campbell would not only be a great football player but more specifically a great running back. After all, his father, Earl Campbell, was called by Dallas Cowboys’ coach Barry Switzer, “the greatest player that ever suited up.” And Tyler Campbell was certainly headed in his father’s footsteps, even playing the same position as his father at San Diego State University.
Then in December 2007, an unexpected twist of fate occurred when Tyler, then 24, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Tyler, however, possessed not only his dad’s skill for football but the traits behind those skills that made his father great, such as perseverance, tenacity, and determination, but for Tyler, it’s his life, not a football, he’s moving toward the goal posts.
Since his diagnosis Tyler has become an active National MS Society ambassador in his home state of Texas and is passionate about raising awareness of the disease. “I view my MS diagnosis as a blessing,” he says. “I now have the opportunity to share my experience to help others living with this disease and make an impact on the MS community.”
Like facing off on a football field, life with MS is unpredictable. Often disabling, MS is a disease of the central nervous system. It interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. In the U.S., someone is newly diagnosed each hour of the day and there are an estimated 2.1 million people living with MS worldwide.
“What I’ve learned through dealing with my MS and from my work with the MS Society is it’s important to work with your doctor. For me that meant beginning a disease modifying therapy as soon as possible,” says Tyler. “The resources available through the society have been incredible. When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t even know what MS was, but now I know what MS is and how it relates to me as an African American.”
Earl Campbell, although he’s paid his own heavy physical price from a life marked by bone shattering injuries, is taking a stand alongside son Tyler. An advocate of the Pro Player Foundation, he has partnered with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to honor his son’s struggle with the disease through a specially commissioned piece of art. The limited edition autographed “The Unstoppable Earl Campbell” features Campbell from his days as a University of Texas Longhorn alongside famous Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters. “The Unstoppable Earl Campbell” combines the talent of 10 Warner Bros. artists and designers using the traditional hand-drawn and hand-painted process of