Lifestyle & Human Interest

Former NFL Player-Turned-Firefighter Diagnosed with ALS One Month After Getting Married


A former NFL player-turned-firefighter was diagnosed with an incurable disease only a month after marrying his wife.

Now, the man who has spent his life serving others is fighting to get drugs and treatments available to patients who suffer the same reality he now faces.

In college, Eric Stevens served as captain of the football team at the University of California, Berkeley, where he played from 2008 to 2012.

Then in 2013, he was signed by the St. Louis Rams as an unrestricted free agent.

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In 2015, he returned to work in southern California, where he joined the Los Angeles Fire Department.

In a recent Instagram post, the LAFD said Stevens was “off to a strong career” after joining the fire department, but that he was “stopped in his tracks” after receiving a devastating diagnosis.

Only one month after he married his wife, Amanda, doctors told the 29-year-old firefighter that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, ALS affects nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement. Patients who suffer from this disease slowly lose their ability to perform simple tasks like chewing, walking and talking as those nerve cells gradually deteriorate.

Many people diagnosed with ALS die within 3 to 5 years of symptoms first appearing. While there is no cure, there are several clinical trials for treatments that may help slow its progression.

The newly wed couple was understandably distraught as they tried to wrap their minds around Stevens’ diagnosis.

“The diagnosis and subsequent education they received about the horrific disease was the worst news one could ever imagine,” Stevens Nation, an Instagram account dedicated to the young firefighter, posted recently.

His family started a GoFundMe to help Stevens cover the cost of his treatments.

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“As an athlete you want a game plan, as a firemen you want a protocol, as a human you want hope! But right now all I can do is look at him and pray,” the campaign page reads.

“Pray that he will be spared. Pray that he will enjoy each day. Pray that he will know I will love him through all this.”

Even though the diagnosis is heartbreaking, Stevens is continuing his dedication to serve others.

“Given his strong determination and success in anything he puts his mind to, Eric has chosen to fight and advocate for getting drugs and treatments available to patients NOW,” Stevens Nation wrote on Instagram.

“Eric’s goal with the help of his family and friends, is to raise awareness for ALS and act now toward getting treatments available.”

Stevens and his family hope to achieve that goal by sharing his story across social media.

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Kayla has been a staff writer for The Western Journal since 2018.
Kayla Kunkel began writing for The Western Journal in 2018.
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