I was perusing ESPN.com last night and came across this article about Charlie Villanueva. Now I will be honest with you, I thought the reason he was bald was because he shaved his head. But that’s not the case as Villanueva suffers from alopecia universalis.
Alopecia areata (al-oh-PEE-shah air-ee-AH-tah) is a highly unpredictable, autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair on the scalp and elsewhere on the body as defined by the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. It affects only 1.7% percent of the population. Basically what happens is the white blood cells attack the hair follicles causing hair loss in spots. It usually starts out as spots before turning to complete hair loss.
Villanueva was diagnosed with alopecia at the age of 10 and was bald by the age of the 12. Because he was bald at such a young age, he was constantly picked on and ridiculed. This only made him stronger and he took out his frustrations on the basketball court. He was drafted in the 1st round as the 7th pick overall out of the University of Connecticut by the Toronto Raptors. After one season, he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.
He is now the national spokesman for the NAAF and also has his own foundation (Charlie Villanueva Foundation), which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating bullying through programs focused on outlets of self-expression and growth. He also does something called “Charlie’s Road Angels Program” which encourages youths affected by the disease to attend games in their towns.
For all the bad news we see about the athletes, it is really nice to see a good story about an athlete. I highly encourage you to read the article. Here is the link.
Technorati: Charlie Villanueva, Alopecia