Dominique Wilkins' Slam Dunks For Diabetes - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Dominique Wilkins' Slam Dunks For Diabetes

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MIDTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) - As a former NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks soared high in the sky in earning the nickname the "Human Highlight Reel."

Even in retirement he's still garnering the spotlight not for his basketball exploits, but for his wisdom, courage and knowledge he dispenses to those suffering the effects of diabetes.

Wilkins visited Memphis on Monday to participate in the Slam Dunk For Diabetes Basketball Camp, held June 16-18 at the Penny's Fast Break Courts at Methodist University Hospital in Midtown Memphis.

It always seemed Wilkins played above the rim in his 12 prime years with the Hawks. But, it never meant in real life he was anything but a down-to-earth guy not caught up in the hype; just the kind of person who could reach out and share his story of battling diabetes.

Just as he was during his prolific career Wilkins continues to be a man used to standing out in a crowd. But, these days the former nine-time All-Star is building up his assists stats as a spokesperson touting the importance of diabetes treatment, a health condition Wilkins himself didn't know he'd fallen victim to until he'd hung up his sneakers.

"Diabetes is very hard to detect when you're in great shape," he said. "It's only when life slows down. You don'texercisee as much, you eat the same foods. Before you find out got the same problem a lot of people have."

The thing that you want to do now, especially as kids is what you do now that will make a difference in your life later.

Wilkins was scoring big points with young participants at the kickoff of this week's diabetes basketball camp. About 20 children wereon handd for the opening session of a camp for Type 1 diabetes participants to learn the fundamentals of  basketball while learning to manage their diabetes.

It was all conducted under the watchful eyes of Le Bonheur Children's Hospital personnel and certified diabetes educators, including Slam Dunk Diabetes founder, Chicagoan Monica Joyce.

"They come off the court, they check blood sugars, probably in the three-hour camp about five or six times," Joyce said. "Each time they come over and work with the diabetes educator. They need to think about their blood sugar, whether they have to make a food adjustment or an insulin adjustment at breakfast."

"We distributed brochures for the camp throughout the city at different clinics for the pediatrics and the crinology," added Brandi Pigg, Le Bonheur pediatric dietician. "They just had to send out their application and they filled out a medical form. So, they were approved by their doctor to come. So, it's free of charge to all participants."

Yet, these kids were lucky enough to pick up a life's lesson from a guy, whose career maybe grounded, but whose life is still soaring just as high.

"But, again, it's a lifestyle change, a physical activity and a diet change are the two most important things outside the medication," Wilkins said.

This is the 10th year of the Slam Dunk Diabetes crusade founded by Joyce in Chicago. Memphis is the third city to host this type of camp outside of the Windy City.

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