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Old 07-12-2009, 07:56 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' Holmes spreading the message

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. As a youngster, Super Bowl XLIII MVP Santonio Holmes experienced pain that racked his body similar to what his seven-year-old son endures today.

As a child, Holmes didn't know the source of that pain but he knows now.

His son has sickle-cell disease.

"I went through the same thing as a kid same pain in my stomach all the time, arms just start hurting for no reason," Holmes said following a recent workout at Disney's Wide World of Sports. "I never knew what it was until I just found out in May that I have sickle cell 25 years. Now, I know why he's going through all those things I did."

Holmes was born with the sickle-cell trait, a genetically inherited blood disease. His son, Santonio III, has sickle-cell disease, which appears in one out of every 5,000 people, mostly affecting African-Americans. Steelers safety Ryan Clark also has the sickle-cell trait.

Following his game-winning touchdown catch in the Steelers' 27-23 win against Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII, Holmes auctioned the gloves he wore in the game and donated all of the proceeds $70,200 to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

"My seven-year-old is doing a lot better," Holmes said. "He's healthy. It's almost to the point it can be controlled. We didn't have enough money to keep me in and out of the hospital like I do now for him. So I had to deal with it.

"He definitely has to take medicine, probably for the rest of his life."

The average life expectancy of someone with sickle cell disease is the mid-40s, according to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. The disease occurs when two sickle cell genes are inherited - one from each parent. The sickle cell trait involves the presence of just one defective sickle cell gene.

This has been a special offseason for Holmes. He became a football hero to millions with his touchdown catch in the Super Bowl. But he's been a bigger hero to his two sons, who are spending the summer with him in Orlando.

Holmes has three children - two sons and a daughter - but he isn't married. He said taking care of his sons this summer is something that's long overdue.

"I've got my boys with me for the whole summer," Holmes said. "I've got double-duty now. At first, it was just go work out, go home and sleep, talk to the kids on the phone. Now, it's go home, gotta find food for these guys to eat, got to be able to take them to the park, even when I'm tired. Got to be able to watch them throughout the day and night."

A couple of weeks ago, Holmes arrived in Orlando at 1:30 a.m. with Santonio III and Nicori, 5, following a trip to Miami. A few hours later, he showed up for his scheduled workout with Steelers teammates James Farrior, Ike Taylor and William Gay.

"I had to be at work at 9," Holmes said. "I can't wake up saying, 'I don't feel like it today.'"

At 25, Holmes who has been arrested twice and recently had marijuana charges against him dropped is showing signs of maturing.

In previous years, he didn't juggle football and family as well. He said he wants to become a better father to his kids.

"I took on the challenge to keep them for the summer, just because I had been running around from February to May (since winning the Super Bowl)," Holmes said.

"I wasn't putting in the time with the kids I was supposed to. I said I'm going to settle down, I'm going to get the kids, have them with me for the summer. If I travel, they travel. That'll keep me from traveling so much. That'll keep me from being out in the streets at night. This is what moms do. This is what you should do.

"They get to share a lot of things with me now that they couldn't when they were away. We talk on the computer at least two or three times a week when they're back home. But there's nothing like having to yell at them for doing something bad in the house, or for not putting up their clothes. That's just a part of being a father. When they leave me, and I go back to Pittsburgh for camp, it's going to be different."

About sickle cell

What is the disease: An inherited disorder that affects red blood cells. People with the disease have red blood cells that become hard and pointed instead of soft and round.

Who gets the disease: Mostly people of African descent, although it also can be found in Middle Eastern countries, Asia and some people of European heritage.

What is the trait: Anyone with a sickle cell trait has inherited the gene for sickle cell disease. Sickle cell trait does not turn into sickle cell disease. If two partners have the sickle cell trait, they may produce a child with sickle cell disease.

How many have the trait: Approximately 2.5 million people in the U.S. are carriers.

How many have the disease: In the U.S., over 70,000 people have it. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year.

What problems come from the disease: Lung tissue damage, pain episodes and stroke. The blockage of blood flow caused by sickled cells also can damage most organs, including the spleen, kidneys and liver.

What is the average life expectancy: Into the mid-40s.

Is there a cure: Not yet, but research in gene therapy, the ultimate universal cure, is underway.

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Old 07-12-2009, 09:11 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Holmes spreading the message

I am glad that Holmes is maturing and taking care of his kids for the summer.

I think he is going to have a big season this year. Double digit TD's and over 1000 yards.

Congrats to the 2009 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins
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Old 07-12-2009, 11:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Holmes spreading the message

Tone said it all himself. "It's time to be great." And dang if if he didn't go out and just do it.

Here's to Santonio keeping his head on straight and having a pro bowl season.
"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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