CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The public perceives most professional athletes as superior specimens and in peak condition, but pros can suffer from debilitating health conditions just like the rest of us. For example: world champion and Cleveland Cavaliers star Richard Jefferson.
Asthma almost cost Jefferson a early retirement.
""I was almost in a position where I was forced to do it," Jefferson said.
Jefferson has been a professional basketball player since 2001 and has played for teams including the New Jersey Nets, the Milwaukee Bucks, and now, of course, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even with such an established career, not many people know that Jefferson has struggled with severe asthma for more than 25 years. His asthma has been so severe, he once thought it could jeopardize his career.
He is one of more than 25 million people in the U.S. that suffers from the inflammatory disease. He has tested different medications and treatments throughout his career, but none have been as effective as Bronchial Thermoplasty. The minimally invasive procedure has credited the treatment to his successful basketball career.
"I wasn't going to be able to continue playing, I wasn't going to be able to continue doing what I needed to do if I didn't try to make an adjustment," Jefferson said of the decision to have Bronchial Thermoplasty.
Jefferson has made it a goal now to educate asthma sufferers on the treatment, and wants to let people now that although asthma can be severe and persistent, with treatment, it can be relieved.
"For me it was very easy, you go in in the morning you're out in the afternoon and you're going about your daily activities shortly after that. There were no restrictions on me," Jefferson said.
Click here for more information on the treatment and Richard Jefferson's journey.