Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images
Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

The Detroit Free Press and WZZM TV has reported that Detroit Tigers legend and former Michigan State 2-sport star Kirk Gibson has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Gibson, in his first year back as an analyst with Fox Sports Detroit, has been absent from the FSD broadcast booth since the Opening Day telecast.


"I have faced many different obstacles in my life, and have always maintained a strong belief that no matter the circumstances, I could overcome those obstacles," Gibson, 57, said in a released statement. "While this diagnosis poses a new kind of challenge for me, I intend to stay true to my beliefs. With the support of my family and friends, I will meet this challenge with the same determination and unwavering intensity that I have displayed in all of my endeavors in life. I look forward to being back at the ballpark as soon as possible."

Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects one's movement. Well-known patients include Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox.

Gibson, a native of Waterford, was a key member of the Tigers' 1984 championship team. He was with the team in 1979-87 and returned in 1993-95. In between, he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates.

He had 255 career home runs and a .268 career average.

"We're all just hoping, praying that things work out," said Alan Trammell, who was teammates with Gibson on the 1984 team. "He's a very private person, and I respect that totally."

Trammell served as bench coach when Gibson managed the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010-14 (353-375 record). Gibson served as Trammell's bench coach when Trammell managed the Tigers in 2003-05.

"I have so much respect for Gibby, not only as a player and former manager, but off the field he was a great friend," Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill told the Arizona Republic. "And I know that his passion to compete and his drive to win will help him and his family fight this diagnosis. He was always there for his players, and we will support him and help in any way we can."

Parkinson's disease develops slowly, and patients can live long, high-quality lives even after diagnosis. Medications and surgery often can control symptoms for years.

Still, there is no cure. And over time, the progressive disorder can cause stiffness, slow movement and tremors. Those with Parkinson's often lose expressions in their face. Their speech may be slurred or become soft and low, and their gait might be affected when they walk. Over time, a person with Parkinson's loses the ability to regulate their movements, body and emotions. Simple tasks may become difficult.

The reason: The brain slowly stops producing the neurotransmitter dopamine, which relays messages across the brain that control, among other things, movement.

Parkinson's a common disorder, especially among those over 60 years old. About 50,000 new cases are reported each year.

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