NBA Star Paul George Takes Stroke Prevention to Heart
Advocacy The pro basketball player is sharing his family’s journey in the wake of his mother’s stroke in order to inspire others and help grow community and visibility for stroke survivors.
Oklahoma City’s Paul George was just six years old when his mother, Paulette, suffered a stroke. The stroke triggered two blood clots, leaving her bedridden for two years and paralyzed on her left side. Today she lives a healthy life, and the NBA superstar is lending his voice to raise awareness about stroke’s warning signs.
On how the experience impacted his view of health:
“At that age, I didn’t understand what being healthy was. My mom was healthy. She walked, she exercised, so it just kind of came out of left field. It was a disease that really, I didn’t understand. I didn’t know what was going on. Looking at it now, [the stroke] definitely had an effect on me growing up in terms of what I was eating; not trying to eat too much unhealthy, heavy or greasy food. I was a kid, so obviously I had a few bad moments, but it was always in the back of my mind.”
On going from kid to caregiver overnight:
“Well, you don’t look at it like that. It’s a loved one. It was my mom. Whatever it took, whatever I had to do, whatever my mom needed, I was going to be there for her. She had a great support system around with myself, my father and my sisters. I didn’t look at it like I was a caregiver. I just knew that my mother was ill, and that’s when she needed us the most.”
On advice he has for families navigating stroke recovery:
“I think just being there for her. I think that was the best thing. I saw my mom almost as a baby all over again where she couldn’t talk, walk or see. But us being by her side, us constantly squeezing her arm, squeezing her fingers, talking to her, it kind of brought back memories for her and it helped her fight, knowing that we were there to support her. So I think that after the stroke hits, the best thing you can do is just be there nonstop and just give every bit of love you can, every moment.”
On the importance of stroke awareness:
“I think it’s just letting people know they’re not in it alone. They have my help and my support. Any way I can be a part of a testimony or story for them to relate to or to gain their own strength from is ultimately what I’m here for.”