Former WCW star and NFL player Steve “Mongo” McMichael is currently battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the 63 year old Mongo was formally diagnosed with the disease a little more than three months ago. He has now chosen to reveal his condition, and how he has lost around 50-60 pounds, now down near 200 and lighter than he was when he graduated high school in 1976.
Mongo’s wife of 23 years, Misty, now feeds him and helps him use the bathroom each day, and gives him sponge baths. Mongo can no longer raise his arms or hold anything in his hands. He recently got a new high-tech wheelchair, an advanced hybrid model with a “sip and puff” straw and head controls for steering. Full-time confinement in that wheelchair is likely just around the corner.
“I promise you,” McMichael said, “this epitaph that I’m going to have on me now? This ain’t ever how I envisioned this was going to end.”
Mongo wants to share his vicious fight with ASL because he wants the outside world to know the curtain has lowered on his time in the public eye. He will no longer make public appearances, or do on-air analysis of the Chicago Bears for ESPN-1000, or perform with his band – The Chicago Six. The Tribune noted that Mongo will never sign another autograph, and has given his last show.
“I want everybody to realize why they’re no longer going to see me around,” McMichael said.
It was noted that Mongo and Misty are keeping their sense of humors through the ideal. They’re calling on incredible toughness and resolve to face each day as its own challenge, but realize that the disease will only see things get more difficult.
“I thought I was ready for anything,” McMichael joked. “But man. This will sneak up on you like a cheap-shotting Green Bay Packer.”
Mongo first noted symptoms last fall and figured he was dealing with some kind of neck or spine issue stemming from his careers in the ring and on the field. However, he visited the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota this past September and a neurosurgeon presented the first suggestion that he may be dealing with ALS.
Mongo didn’t want to believe it, and sought multiple opinions. Doctors at Rush University Medical Center repeated the ALS diagnosis on January 7, and that’s when it became official. A neurologist at UIC Medical Center later surmised that the condition likely began setting in 36 months earlier.
Mongo still can’t fully believe that this is where fate has led him.
“What I used to be is the antithesis of what I am now,” he said. “This is a humbling thing, brother.”
A GoFundMe campaign for Mongo has been set up at this link, and is currently at $19,777 of a $100,000 goal. You can find more details on future fundraising and merchandise at TeamMongo76.com. You can click here to read the full profile from The Chicago Tribune, which includes details on his current living conditions, how the NFL is helping, additional comments from Mongo, and more.
“Hell yes, I would do it all over again,” McMichael said. “Because it’s that journey that’s the reward. It’s that climb and how hard it was to substantiate yourself as out of the ordinary. That kind of achievement isn’t just given to you.”
Mongo had one last message for those who may be concerned about him and his family.
“Say a prayer,” he said. “Say a prayer.”
Stay tuned for more.