Former NBA All-Star Anderson speaks out on stroke, new children’s book

HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - Kenny Anderson, a former NBA All-Star with 14 seasons under his belt when he retired in 2006, felt that, as a former professional athlete, he was invincible. Then he suffered a stroke.

The 48-year-old fought back tears as he described what happened in his Pembroke Pines home on Feb. 23.

“When I came and had my stroke, I realized that — I had the stroke four months ago — and I realized I could have died,” he said.

Anderson said he had just returned from his first season as head basketball coach at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.

“My right side was blind. I couldn’t see,” he said.

Anderson’s daughter called 911, and paramedics rushed him to Memorial Hospital West.

Once Anderson was stabilized and treated with medication, it was Dr. Alan Novick, medical director at Memorial Rehabilitation Institute, who started the process of moving forward.

“The brain is so sensitive. It doesn’t tolerate not having circulation to it for very long,” said Novick, “so it’s very important to get to the hospital quickly.”

Anderson’s wife, Natasha Anderson, said she is making sure he sticks to his rehab schedule.

“He goes to rehab three times a week, outpatient, and two times a week we have a private therapist come home,” she said, “but I still need to make sure that I go over his medications with him.”

Anderson visited Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital last week to read from his newly published children’s book, “The Adventures of Lil’ Kenny: Vol. 1 — Kenny Finds Basketball.”

The book deals with Anderson’s life, from playing on the streets of New York City to his stint at the NBA. It also explains how taking care of your body leads to a healthy life.

Anderson said that message applies to all age groups.

“Very emotional coming up here, dealing with these young kids. I didn’t know how close I was to dying,” he said. “You gotta check on what you’re getting: blood pressure, cholesterol. You’ve got to check those things, and I just wasn’t checking.”

Anderson urged everyone to schedule that yearly medical checkup and to know the signs of a possible stroke. The acronym is FAST, which stands for face dropping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 911.

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