Mark Richt latest former athlete diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease

CORAL GABLES, FL - DECEMBER 04: (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
CORAL GABLES, FL - DECEMBER 04: (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images) /

Former Miami Hurricanes quarterback and head coach Mark Richt is the latest former athlete to come forward with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. Richt made the announcement via his Twitter account on Thursday. Mark Richt played QB at Miami from 1978-82 and was the head coach from 2016-2018.

Prior to coming to Miami, Richt was the head coach at Georgia from 2001-2015. According to WebMD “Parkinson’s disease affects the nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine. Parkinson’s disease symptoms include muscle rigidity, tremors, and changes in speech and gait.” There is no cure for Parkinson’s.

Richt has been working for the ACC Network since retiring following the 2018 season. In addition to the diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, Richt suffered a heart attack in 2019. Parkinson’s and other neuromuscular diseases have been too common among former athletes. Several have been open with their struggles.

Late heavyweight boxing champion and 1960 Olympic Gold Medalist Muhammad Ali is the most famous former athlete who has had Parkinson’s Disease. Former Miami Heat player Brian Grant who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s shortly after his playing career has set up a foundation for the disease.

Grant has a list of former athletes on his foundation page that were diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Among other well-known athletes with Parkinson’s are former baseball stars Kirk Gibson and Dave Parker and late Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan. Athletes who play eight or more years of contact sports are more likely to get Parkinson’s.

Richt will become another important face for Parkinson’s. Actor Michael J. Fox has also been an important voice and raised millions of dollars for Parkinson’s. The list of famous people with Parkinson’s extends far beyond sports. Singers Neil Diamond and Linda Rondstadt also were diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

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Nearly one million people in the U.S. and 10 million worldwide have Parkinson’s. More than 60,000 people are diagnosed in the U.S. with Parkinson’s every year. Men are more than 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Richt is a good face and voice to help raise awareness about Parkinson’s Disease.