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NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen on managing his son's Type 1 diabetes during COVID-19

Brian Sozzi
·3 min read
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NBA Hall of Famer and two-time championship winner Ray Allen said the COVID-19 pandemic has required more attention by him and his wife Shannon on managing his 14-year-old son Walker’s Type 1 diabetes.

“His diabetes has been difficult for 13 years, because every day is a winding road. No day is like the other. We have to really pay attention to him, and we have to keep eyes on him. And certainly over the past year during the pandemic, I will say that it has been somewhat easier because he has been home,” Allen told Yahoo Finance. “The fact is that he's at very high risk as a diabetes child. We've had to keep him home schooled. So we’ve done everything online. And we've also had to keep his brothers home because obviously we don't want them to be able to get sick and, in fact, him as well.”

Walker was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 17 months old during the 2008 NBA Finals, between his father’s Boston Celtics and long-time rival the L.A. Lakers. Some 12-plus years after being diagnosed, Allen said his son is leading as normal a life could be and enjoys singing, playing the piano and sports. The younger Allen uses Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre 2 glucose monitoring device to help keep his glucose levels in check (Ray Allen is a spokesperson for the Abbott device).

The pandemic has hit those with diabetes especially hard.

Walker Allen plays basketball with his father Ray Allen.
Walker Allen plays basketball with his father Ray Allen.

Diabetes was noted as an underlying condition for 40% of patients who have died from COVID-19, according to recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC). More than three-quarters of people who have died from COVID-19 had at least one pre-existing condition, according to the CDC.

The risk of dying from COVID-19 was three times higher for those with Type 1 diabetes, per a study out of the U.K. from Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Allen said his son will receive a COVID-19 vaccine when they feel as comfortable as possible with the risks. His advice to other parents who may be dealing with pre-existing health conditions for their children and preparing them for the vaccine: Ask a lot of questions.

“I would suggest most people who are in the same predicament just to ask questions because everybody's body is different. And people who have had a vaccine some people have fevers, some people feel lethargic, some people get a little under the weather,” Allen said. “So really, it's us doing our homework and understanding what the effects will be on Walker going forward which will determine at what point we’ll allow him to get the vaccination.”

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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