Knowledge Helped Ty Montgomery Push Past Stigma in Sickle Cell Battle

In Summary

NFL player Ty Montgomery found out he had the sickle cell trait in 2011 and feared his football career would be over, but knowledge about the condition helped him succeed. 

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Ty Montgomery knows all too well about the battle with sickle cell. He joined BNC Live to discuss how it has impacted his life and his performance on the field.  

Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that affects the flow of red blood cells and impacts about 1 in every 365 Black Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 13 Black babies are born with sickle cell, making it common in the Black community.  

RELATED: Sickle CEll Anemia Impacts Black Community at Disproportionate Rates 

He found out he had the trait in 2011 when he was a freshman at Stanford University. “I was blessed to go to a university that did its due diligence,” Montgomery said. He also noted that once he learned about the trait, some of the symptoms he experienced, including pain and cramping, made sense to him. Montgomery said he has also experienced a lack of oxygen to his body, which requires him to stay hydrated.  

When he found out about his diagnosis, he said he did not know how far he’d be able to push himself. “I always had this stigma in my mind that if I push past my limits and my boundaries, then I’m just going to hurt myself, so I can’t do it,” he said. “Like I said before, I’m grateful for the trainers and the doctors and everybody at Stanford who educated me and I felt really comfortable.”  

The knowledge he gained about the condition allowed him to be confident and come up with plans to tackle things that may be tough on his body, including playing football in extreme weather conditions.  

Now, he’s urging Black people to sign up to be bone marrow donors to help those battling sickle cell disease. Those interested in learning more can find information and sign up here.  

RELATED: BNC’s ‘Be Well’ Series Highlights Health Issues in Black Community 

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.  

Check out more from BNC’s Black Women’s Health Initiative here.

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