Have You Ever Wondered What Athletes Have Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 Diabetes Has Not Slowed Jay Cutler

Late in the 2007 NFL season, then-Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler lost 35 pounds.  He also started urinating frequently, experiencing extreme thirst, and feeling extremely tired.[740]  It wasn't until a routine blood test in 2008, right before his 25th birthday, that Cutler found out that he had Type 1 Diabetes.

The symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes that Cutler was exhibiting are typical of undiagnosed diabetics.  However, once Cutler began the daily regimen of glucose monitoring and insulin injections, he began to feel better and adjust to the new lifestyle that Type 1 Diabetes requires.[741]

Jay Cutler - Playing Quarterback in the NFL with Type 1 DiabetesCredit: Mike ShadleCutler Diagnosed As An Adult

Type 1 Diabetes is also known as juvenile diabetes, which would make you think that Cutler's diagnosis at the age of 24 was unusual.  However, every year, 15,000 children and 15,000 adults are diagnosed with the disease.[742]  So Cutler's diagnosis as a young adult was not outside the norm. 

Cutler's Performance After The Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

It did not take Cutler long to rebound from his diagnosis.  In 2008, the first NFL season after he learned he was a diabetic, Cutler threw for 4,526 yards -- good enough for third in the league and easily a career high -- and 25 touchdowns.  This earned him a spot on the AFC Pro Bowl roster. 

Cutler Helps Raise Money To Fight Diabetes

One thing about Type 1 Diabetes is that it does not care who you are.  There is nothing that Cutler's fame or wealth can do to cure his diabetes.  Just like the rest of us that have had our lives affected by the disease, the only thing that can take his diabetes away is the day that a cure is found. 

But one thing Cutler can do is use his platform to help raise money to find new treatments for diabetes and eventually a cure.  He has done this several times, including hosting a charity dinner and participating in a Walk to Cure Diabetes in his hometown of Santa Claus, Indiana.[743]

An Inspiration To Children With Type 1 Diabetes

As a parent of a child with Type 1 Diabetes, I want to make sure that my son understands that while the disease presents challenges, it should not keep him from pursuing any endeavor to which he sets his mind.  Several times I have been asked, "What football players have diabetes?"  I am glad to know that there are successful athletes that play at the highest level that have Type 1 Diabetes.  This sets a great example for kids who otherwise might get discouraged thinking that diabetes will keep them on the sidelines.

Hall of Fame Athletes With Type 1 Diabetes

Jay Cutler is not the only athlete to be successful with Type 1 Diabetes.  While it remains to be seen how history will look upon his career, there are diabetics in the Hall of Fame, including Jackie Robinson and Bobby Clarke.  Not only did these players have diabetes, but they played at a time when treatments were not nearly as advanced as they are today.

Jay Cutler Continues to Succeed

While Jay Cutler's success as a football player is the subject of constant debate, one thing is certain.  He is successful at being someone that aspiring athletes can look to for assurance that Type 1 Diabetes will not keep them off the field.  And with a preschool-aged diabetic son who would love to be a Major League shortstop one day, that's all that matters to me.