One plant-based educator I am proud to call a friend is John Salley, a 7-foot former NBA great with four championship rings. I met John years ago when we would speak together at plant-based conferences in Detroit. He combines deep knowledge and experience with humor and a commanding presence to make a strong case for shunning animal products for a purer life as exemplified by his new program, www.bettalifechallenge.com.
While John's transformation to health, vitality and optimal body weight might be of be of interest to most, it stands in stark contrast to the death of three former NBA players from heart disease, all about the same age as John, within three weeks earlier this year. My passion is to teach as many as possible that over 80 percent of heart attacks are preventable using simple and affordable lifestyle measures. These tragic deaths are worthy of launching a campaign to prevent 1 million heart attacks in the next two years, and I am embarking on that plan.
1. Anthony Mason was only 48 years old when he died in late February following a heart attack. He had won the Sixth Man Award with the Knicks in 1995 and was loved by fans for his competitive play. He had gained over 100 pounds from his former 250-pound frame after retirement. He was survived by two sons and his elderly mother.
2. Christian Welp was 51 years old when he died earlier this year of a heart attack. He was originally from Germany and brought his 7-foot athleticism to the U.S. to become the leading scorer in the history of the University of Washington and ultimately a short NBA career. He then returned to Europe to play. He was survived by his wife and two children.
3. Jack Haley died March 16 at the age of 51 after suffering a heart attack. Haley played in the NBA for nine years including the 1995-6 championship Chicago Bulls team. He was survived by his ex-wife, two sons, and his mother.
Heart disease is a silent killer that seemingly strikes less fear in the heart of the public compared to cancer or even wrinkles! Heart disease can be detected early using widely available and inexpensive technologies like coronary artery calcium scans, is preventable, and can even be reversed if already present. I outlined a plan on how to never have a heart attack in my book Dead Execs Don't Get Bonuses: The Ultimate Guide to Surviving Your Career With a Healthy Heart. My wish is with warriors like John Salley preaching his health message we can see the last of NBA heart tragedies, and heart attacks in general, and succeed in reaching my goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks in the next two years.