David Ginsburg, Associated Press

BALTIMORE (AP) — O.J. Brigance will hold a celebration Tuesday on the 10th anniversary of a day that forever changed his life.

On May 16, 2007, the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. There is no known cure for the motor neuron disease commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, and the life expectancy after being diagnosed is usually two to five years.

Only 10 percent of those with ALS live 10 years beyond the diagnosis, which explains why Brigance and his wife, Chanda, intend to savor the moment.

“The day I was diagnosed was one of the most challenging times of my life, but it was also the day I was enlightened about what true love and true strength really is,” Brigance said. “This is a privilege, to be living today, and we will celebrate every day for the gift that it is. We mark 10 years of resilience, blessings and relationships that have enabled us to come this far.”

Chanda noted: “Some people would wonder, ‘Why are you celebrating this date?’ The answer is, we’re celebrating life. We’re celebrating that all things are possible.”

Brigance, 47, has maintained an active lifestyle since the diagnosis. In 2008, the couple formed the Brigance Brigade Foundation, an organization whose mission is to “equip, encourage and empower” those with ALS.

And, despite using a wheelchair to get around and a communication device that translates his thoughts, Brigance serves as senior adviser to player engagement for the Ravens, a job he started in 2004. In addition to assisting players in all phases of their careers, Brigance is a source of motivation to the entire organization.

“My intention was to continue being a positive contributor to my family and society,” he said. “It’s a matter of focusing on the abilities I still possess, not what I have lost.”

After playing college football at Rice, Brigance began his professional career in 1991 with British Columbia of the Canadian Football League. He joined the Baltimore Stallions in 1994, and one year later that team won the Grey Cup.

His lone season with the Ravens was in 2000. He had a team-high 10 tackles on special teams during Baltimore’s playoff run, which ended with a 34-7 win over the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.

That made Brigance the only player to win a CFL title and a Super Bowl championship for a team in the same city.

Brigance also played in 21 games for the St. Louis Rams, between 2001-02.

Now he’s marking an accomplishment of a different kind.

“We don’t have anything over-the-top planned because, really, just by opening our eyes and being alive, that day is worthy of a celebration,” Chanda said.

On Saturday, the couple will participate in an event at Rice called “Celebration of Courage: A Day Honoring O.J. Brigance.”

“They gave us two to five years, so that’s why I say it’s a blessing to be at 10 years,” Chanda said. “Because you don’t know how much time you have with friends, loved ones and family members. That’s something we’ve grown to appreciate.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments (2)
  1. With ALS,(amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) my first sign that something was wrong, was my slurred speech. And then the inability to eat without getting choked, strangled, and coughing. I didn’t have health care I just thought it was a stroke, When it started to get worse I went to a neurologist. I was given medications like riluzole oral to slow down the progress of the disease, nothing was really working to help my condition. Finally i started on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis herbal formula i purchased from Health Herbal Clinic, i read alot of positive reviews from other patients who used the ALS herbal treatment. I used the herbal remedy for 7 weeks, its effects on ALS is amazing, all my symptoms gradually faded away, i feed very more freely by myself now! (Visit www. healthherbalclinic. net or email at Info@ healthherbalclinic. net) I recommend this ALS herbal formula for all ALS Patients.

  2. My mother was diagnosed with ALS in May 2014. Her doctor put her on riluzole, letting her know there was no cure but the medication might provide her a few more months of delayed symptoms. ALS progresses at different rates and affects different body parts first. My mother, being 80 at the time, fell into a category of what they call “fast progression” (older female). Her arms weakened first, then her hands, her mouth, and throat, and finally her lungs. Throughout her two-and-a-half-year ordeal, she was able to walk with assistance. All the while she continued to take the riluzole. If it bought my mother any time, we will never know. Her neurologist told us that if she couldn’t afford it, there was no real need to take it. She lost touch with reality. Suspecting it was the medication I took her off the riluzole (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started her on the ALS natural herbal formula we ordered from GREEN HOUSE HERBAL CLINIC, We spoke to few people who used the treatment here in Canada and they all gave a positive response, her symptoms totally declined over a 7 weeks use of the Green House ALS disease natural herbal formula. She is now almost 83 and doing very well, the disease is totally reversed! (Visit their website www . Greenhouseherbalclinic . com) I am thankful to nature, herbs are truly gift from God. Share with friends!!

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