We Need Your Feedback!

The American Diabetes Association needs your feedback to ensure we are providing the right information in the right way.

You can take the survey now, if you're ready, or take it later after you've spent more time on the site.

Thank you in advance for your help!

Take the Survey Now Take the Survey Later No, thank you.
Advertisement

Diabetes Forecast

The Healthy Living Magazine

Brandon Denson: Pro Football Player

By Tracey Neithercott , ,
We all have different stories. If you want to grow up and be a police officer, a swimmer, or a doctor, [diabetes] won’t stop you.
Brandon Denson, pro football player

Ex-Michigan State linebacker Brandon Denson plays with the Montreal Alouettes.

Diabetes and Your Career

Brandon Denson is used to fighting for the job he wants. As a high school senior who'd just been diagnosed with diabetes, Denson didn't have any offers to play football in college. He applied to a handful of schools with the hope that he'd at least get to play for fun. Instead, he walked on to the football team at Michigan State as a freshman and earned a full scholarship to play linebacker for the next three years of college (shown in the photo above as No. 34).

Doubts about his ability to go pro vanished the first time he stepped onto the field. "At that first game, I thought, 'I want to do this as a career,' " he says. Denson fulfilled his wish in 2011 when he was drafted to play for a professional team in Canada. This season, after first signing with the Cleveland Gladiators arena football team, Denson moved back to Canadian football with the Montreal Alouettes.

A large part of his success: good diabetes care. "If I don't take care of myself, they're not going to let me play sports," he says. So Denson sticks to a healthy diet and works out regularly, fastidiously monitoring how eating and exercise affect his blood glucose. He also takes care to make sure his insulin pump is secure beneath his pads because speeding down the field, tackling, and getting blocked are all part of the game.

But most important to realizing his dreams? Motivation. "I'm pretty determined, so when I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to get it done," he says.

It's a sentiment he's shared with others with diabetes since his college ball days, when a 13-year-old boy with diabetes wrote to him about being inspired by his play. "I never really spoke to anybody about my diabetes until that letter," he says of the note, which still hangs in his locker. "It opened my eyes that I need to tell people, especially kids, that it's OK if you have diabetes."

Denson still talks to the teen, who's now a senior in high school, and encourages his football aspirations. He's spoken with parents of children with diabetes as well as kids of all ages about going after their dreams. "We all have different stories," he says. "If you want to grow up and be a police officer, a swimmer, or a doctor, [diabetes] won't stop you."

 
Advertisement

Get Free Health Tips

Register for free recipes, news you can use, and simple health tips – delivered right to your inbox.

Get to Know

Red Striders Walk With Pride

Meet Rhiana Wynn, age 8, of Saugus, Calif. She's participating in this year's Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes®, as a Red Strider. Red Striders are people with diabetes who participate in the event. Rhiana steps out to encourage other people with diabetes and to meet other kids like her. Learn more about why other Red Striders step out. Read more >