Skip to main content

3 NBA Players Who Played Through Terrible Medical Conditions

3 NBA Players Who Played Through Terrible Medical Conditions

They Have What? They Still Play in the NBA?

In today’s modern sports environment, one’s body must be a paragon of healthiness and wellbeing. People that are physically not up to the high level of play in the league are usually cast away faster than Tom Hanks. However, some players who have strange medical conditions still manage to play in the NBA. This article combines my two loves, basketball and biology. One being a long love of mine, the other being a former college major of mine. (Didn’t have the stomach or competitiveness for it).

DeJuan Blair: No ACL In Both Knees


That’s right, you heard me, DeJuan Blair has no ACL in either of his knees. Ok! Time for some medical knowledge, the ACL or anterior cruciate ligament’s main function is to keep the tibia from moving too far forward, basically it keeps us from having to see another Kevin Ware happen again. The ACL keeps all the bones and muscles in the knee area in check by restraining them. So after going up for a rebound and landing on hopefully both feet, the shock and force of landing travel up from the feet to the knee where your ACL acts as the body’s natural shock absorbers.

So DeJuan Blair has no ACL in either of his knees. The bane of Derrick Rose’s career (besides SAT’s) that injury that has sidelined so many players over past seasons, the injury that can ruin your career and take away so much potential. DeJuan had surgery on his ACL back in high school, and they just disappeared. So without ACLs Blair has adapted his game, relying on strong hammies and quads to pick up the slack for his missing ligaments. When he jumps, he does it in a way that is less stress on his knees, so the force is lessened.

Scroll to Continue


Charlie Villanueva: Alopecia Universalis


Man the last time that Charlie was relevant was when The Big Ticket called him a “cancer patient” or a “cancer” depending on who you ask. Now looking at Charlie, you immediately notice that yes he is bald. No, he is not a cancer patient who has lost his hair to chemotherapy, he was born this way.

Villanueva was actually affected by Alopecia Areata at the age of 10, where he had spots of hair fall off his head then later, at the age of 12, everything fell off his entire body causing Alopecia Universalis, which he still has now. You rip his shirt off? No chest hair. You give him a gift certificate to get his eyebrows threaded at the shady kiosk run by a sleazy dude named Rico at the mall? Good luck getting your money back from Rico, Charlie has NO EYEBROWS. You convince him to go with you to a nude beach? Ok sir, please stop invading Mr. Villanueva’s personal life. You will not find a single hair anywhere on his body. This condition is not life-threatening but still it is pretty fascinating.

Randy Foye: Situs Inversus


So we all know the drill, during the national anthem, you stand there proud with your right hand over your heart on the left side of your chest. Oh, wait... My editor is sending me a big flashing email. NATE DO NOT DISCUSS THE ANTHEM. Ohhhhh my bad, well Star Spangled Banner aside, if you see Randy Foye at your next NBA game with his hand on the right side of his chest, PLEASE DO NOT RIOT! His heart is in the right place… well, it literally is not in the right place. Foye’s heart is located on the right side of his chest cavity. In fact, all of his organs are backward.

Randy Foye was born with a condition called Situs Inversus which swaps his organs around, his heart being on the right side of his body, his liver being on the left and his appendix also being on the left. He is lucky that all of his organs were swapped if only his heart had swapped things could have gone bad very quickly. The human body is already jam-packed with muscles and bones so Mr. Foye is lucky that his body worked everything else. Just remember if you are ever chilling with Randy Foye, and he passes out, do not check for a heartbeat on the left side of his chest. You will not hear anything, and Randy Foye deserves a fighting chance instead of being buried alive.

Credit for correction: Rob Villanueva