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The Other Side of Montel Williams
Talk with Montel Williams even briefly and you quickly discover his energy and ambition are both infectious and undeniably the product of his military experience. Here’s the second part of our two-part conversation.
Williams began his professional career in the US Marine Corps and was the first black Marine selected to the Naval Academy Prep School to then go on to graduate from the United States Naval Academy. While serving in the military Williams’ was the recipient of two Meritorious Service Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals, and two Navy Achievement Medals and various other military related awards and citations.
But today at age 59, he says, “I am literally in the best physical shape of my entire life. When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) officially in 2000, I weighed about 220lbs. At my age, I’m paying the price for all that weight lifting, those heavy weights I put on my back, my legs, my spine.”
To say he was dedicated to his health is an understatement.
I used to dead lift 400-500 lbs because I thought the more space you took up the more of a man you were. That was not a good way to think…I’m 59 years old, got a six pack every day of the week, and a 32inch waist. We are all responsible for our own health.Even McDonalds has salad; if you get a chicken sandwich and put lettuce on it, then at least you’ve changed up the calculous of what you put in your mouth.”
Shortly after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1999, Williams established the Montel Williams MS Foundation to further the scientific study of MS, provide financial assistance to select organizations and institutions conducting research, raise national awareness, and educate the public. The MWMSF has granted over $1.5 million dollars to research and has supported a study done at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, which discovered an MS gene.
And if not fully engaged in the fight against MS was not enough, Mr. Williams’ daughter Maressa was entangled in her own life-changing battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bravely, Maressa has shared her public journey, chronicling her progress on the Oz Blog.
“My daughter just went through a helluva year with lymphoma. She’s 26 and it was her call about how much I got to participate. You just have to make sure you are there for them. You gotta be there and supportive as you can be. No matter if its your child, or another family member,” he says.
Williams is very proud of his daughter and says, “We must take responsibility of our own health foot print. Get educated, don’t take other peoples words as fact, find the facts for you. Take responsibility for your own decision-making.”
Walker Tisdale is the Executive Editor of Healthyblackmen.org and Director of the Health Institute for Men.