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NFL Star Santonio Holmes: How My Son’s Illness Inspired Me

For years, NFL wide receiver Santonio Holmes didn’t know why his arms, legs, and back sometimes cramped up when he played football. But 12 years ago, the birth of Holmes’ son, TJ, provided an unexpected answer.

A few months after his birth, TJ suffered from his first “crises,” or periodic episode of intense pain. This prompted a blood test that revealed the newborn had sickle cell disease (SCD), an inherited blood disorder passed down to him by his father and mother.

When both parents possess the sickle cell trait, there is a 25 percent chance the baby will be born with SCD, according to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.

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