Nets broadcaster Carrino talks of life with MD
The 40-year-old, who has spent the past decade describing the franchise’s run at NBA titles early in the decade to the misery of recent losing seasons, has done it with his body being gradually attacked by a form of muscular dystrophy.
Carrino has facioscapulohumeral dystrophy, one of nine types of MD, and this one has neither a treatment nor a cure.
“I have always been reluctant to talk about it because I never wanted to seem different,” Carrino said. “I never wanted to be treated differently. It took me a while to talk to the people, even friends. It’s something I felt that as long as I could get away with people not knowing, it would be fine.”
Call it the product of frustration. Carrino has not seen much progress in treating FSHD since he was diagnosed in the early 1990s. He doesn’t believe much is being done now, at least compared to some other more recognizable forms of MD, like Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Muscular Dystrophy Association spokesman Jim Brown there are about 21,500 to 40,000 people in the United States diagnosed with FSHD, which is slightly higher than the number of ALS patients (15,000 to 40,000).
MDA is currently spending $2.25 million funding 12 FSHD projects, Brown said, noting a recent study found the molecular cause of FSHD. The total does not include money being spent on other projects that will lead to advances in FSHD therapy development, he added.
“Maybe it was time for me to come forward and do something that could have an impact,” said Carrino, adding he had always wanted to start an FSHD foundation, but wanted to do it after becoming a major player in the broadcast field.
With each passing year, however, he never felt he was big enough.
His 40th birthday and a long talk with his wife, Laura, convinced him now was the time to take on the genetic degenerative disease that usually strikes young adults by the age of 20. It affects the voluntary muscles in the face, shoulders and upper arms.
Growing up in Yonkers, N.Y., Carrino was active in sports, both on and off the field.
He had the broadcasting bug by the age of 9 or 10. He sat in front of his television, turned down the sound and did his own play-by-play on sports events. He played baseball and basketball, and eventually ran freshman track and played tennis at Iona Prep.
Going to college at Fordham, he started noticing changes. He was a step slower. Basketballs felt heavier, and tripping over a little crack in the pavement might cause his leg to give out and lead to a fall.
Carrino chalked it up to aging. When the problems continued, he had himself checked out.