Braves player rallies to find cure for ALS after personal tragedy

ATLANTA — Major League Baseball honored Lou Gehrig’s legacy over the weekend. Friday was the 82nd anniversary of his death from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also know as ALS.

MLB wants to raise awareness for the disease that ended Gehrig’s life at just 37 years old. Channel 2 sports director Zach Klein spoke with a Braves player who went through a tragedy related to the brutal disease.

“There’s hope and belief that there will be a cure soon. Hopefully in our lifetime. The more awareness and funding we can put toward research, the better,” Braves outfielder Sam Hilliard said.

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Hilliard wants nothing more than to turn the family tragedy into triumph. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, affects some 6,000 people every year and does not have a cure.

In 2018, Sam Hilliard’s father, his hero, Dr. Jim Hilliard was diagnosed with ALS. Jim never let the disease define him and fought every day,

“When Jim was diagnosed and Sam was still in Double-A, I remember thinking, ‘Oh Lord, let us make it until Sam can make it to the big leagues,’ I wanted Jim to be able to see that,” Tamara Hilliard said.


Jim would see his dream of watching his son play in the big leagues come true when Hilliard debuted for the Colorado Rockies in 2019.

“He got more. He got to see him play a couple of years and see him get married. We’ll take those blessings,” his wife said.

Just two short years later, in September 2021, Jim passed away peacefully with his family by his side. The entire Hilliard family rallied together, forming the Team Hilliard Foundation.

The foundation raises awareness and funds to help families in need with the ultimate goal and dream of finding a cure for ALS.

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