Ex-NFL Player Turned LAFD Blames His ALS Diagnosis on Football

Rebekah Sager
November 27, 2019 - 1:24 pm

A local L.A. firefighter is asking for the public's help. He and his family have launched a campaign to bring awareness to ALS. 

Eric Stevens is a former D1 athlete, captain of the Cal Football team, a former NFL fullback for the Rams, and now a member of the Los Angeles Fire Department. In August, Stevens was diagnosed with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) --  a month after marrying his college sweetheart, Amanda.

Eric's brother, Craig, says he believes, and Eric says his doctor confirmed, that it was football that caused his ALS. 

"My doctor told me it's definitely football-related," Eric says. "The more concussions and head trauma, there is a direct link to ALS. They say you're twice as likely to get it if you're a veteran, or an athlete or a high-impact sport like football," he adds. 

The 30-year-old Palos Verdes Peninsula High grad says his symptoms began with weakness in his left hand, and after his wedding and honeymoon, he told his wife they needed to see a neurologist. 

ALS is a disease that causes the death of neurons controlling muscle movement, and it is usually fatal within 2 to 5 years, but paralysis begins setting in before that. 

"He pretty much self-diagnosed himself," Amanda told In-Depth. 

The Stevens' are hoping to get into a clinical trial of a stem cell-based treatment called NurOwn, currently starting a Phase 3 Trial. NurOwn has shown success in potentially slowing or stabilizing the progress of the disease.

ALS patients on average have about $300,000 in medical costs per year. 

Of the 30,000 Americans diagnosed with ALS, one in six are veterans or athletes. Every 90 seconds someone is diagnosed with ALS and someone with ALS dies every 90 seconds. 

The Stevens' are working hard to bring awareness to ALS and recently launched TeamStevensNation in an effort to raise money for the disease with a GoFundMe page where people can donate to help with Eric's medical costs. 

LAFD with Eric Stevens

Stevens and his wife were recently featured on "The Ellen DeGeneres" show, where Green.com donated $50,000 toward Eric's care. 

The social media “Team Stevens Nation” pages on Facebook,  Instagram and Twitter are filled with photos of their supporters, all using their tagline -- #AxeALS. 

You can hear the full interview on In-Depth