Former Chicago Bears Super Bowl champion Steve McMichael reveals ALS diagnosis

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For opposing offenses, Steve McMichael was a terror on the field. He is one of the leaders on what is considered one of the best defenses in football history, the '85 Bears.

In fact, McMichael helped carry head coach Mike Ditka off the field after the game.

Former teammates are stunned McMichael revealed in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that he has been diagnosed with ALS.

"A lot of the guys on the team, we're doing what we can to help... Do what we can to fill in the blanks for Steve at this time," said former teammate Dan Hampton.

McMichael was formally diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in Janurary, although doctors believe he may have first developed it some three years ago.

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Frates died peacefully, surrounded by his family, they said in a statement.

Now, as the symptoms become more difficult for him to deal with, he's decided to go public with his struggle.

After leaving the University of Texas, McMichael came to Chicago as an undrafted free agent and worked to become a star. For all his talent on the field, he had a colorful personality to match it off the field.

"For us reporters, it was a treat to go to his locker because you knew he would say something controversial, funny and candid," recalled former Chicago Tribune Sportswriter, Fred Mitchell.

McMichael has stayed in the Chicago area since his football days.

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Publicist Betsy Shepherd models a "Team Mongo" shirt with his nickname that is being sold to help the family with expenses. She has worked with him for the last two decades, including his unsuccessful run for mayor of Romeoville.

"I've cried a few times today. Unbelievable. Of all the people for this to happen to," Shepard said.

Shepard said McMichael, who was once an amazing athlete, has already lost use of his arms and hands.

"Here's a man -- one of the strongest individuals with incredible stamina that most Chciagoans could really think of -- and yet, if ALS can strike him, it can strike anyone," said Andrea Pauls Backman with Les Turner ALS Foundation.

There is no cure for ALS, but like all obstacles in his life, McMichael is facing it head on.

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The Bears organization has donated a motorized wheelchair to McMichael. Friends and family are also trying to raise funds to help with the medical expenses.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family. As of 7 p.m. Friday, it has already raised nearly $52,000.

McMichael and his wife Misty have a 13-year-old daughter.
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