O.J. and Chanda Brigance: Overcoming ALS


Faith is something that you can’t see, but emotionally feel. It can be exemplified as an emotional attachment that keeps individuals pushing forward in their daily lives, even though certain events are happening throughout their lives that could alter it or keep them grounded in patience. Wife of Baltimore Ravens O.J. Brigance had to be grounded within faith, while her husband was going through the emotions with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Chanda Brigance remained by her husband’s side and their faith helped them get through some of the tough times. “Faith and Patience was something that kept me rooted and helped me along the way. Without having faith, we could not do it.”

O.J. had a great career in the AFL and moved up the ladder to the NFL. He started off with the Lions, played three years, and earned his best season in 19993 with 20 tackles. After his three years was up with the Lions, O.J. played for the Baltimore Stallions, where he was an All Pro, and recorded seven sacks to help his team secure the Grey Cup Championship. In 1996 he started his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins.He played there for four seasons, and left there to become a Baltimore Raven. He helped the team with his leadership ability and the way he could change the game on special teams. He was very quick and could change direction any time he felt. In 2000, the Ravens won the Super Bowl and O.J. was one of the factors that helped the team. The Rams picked O.J. up and he played around two seasons, then he played one game with the Patriots, and decided it was his time to step away.

While he was a player on the field, he was a hero to everyone he touched. He had the ability to encourage others by using what he had to go through to get to the NFL. He was admirable and when he spoke, people took in the advice that he was telling others. Both of the Brigances have been involved with helping the community. They have been involved in a number of different community organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Daily Food Bank.

Each of these organizations grew in knowledge, faith, and helped others who are dealing with certain issues and needed guidance. “O.J. was just a person that liked to help everyone and everybody who could out. He had this thing about himself that made everyone flock to him, because he was such a generous person.

Brigance was honored with the NFLPA’s Unsung Hero award in 1999, as well as receiving the Ed Block Courage Award in 2007. Most recently, OJ was presented with the Rice University 2012 Distinguished Alumni award.
great 123However in 2007, O.J.’s health to a turn for the worst. He was diagnosed with ALS and it was something that altered both of their lives. “We had to make sure that he was comfortable and that he was in peace. His happiness is my happiness, because he deserves it all. I mean all of the support that the Ravens’ organization has given all of us has been generous. We are very thankful, because the Ravens’ organization treated him like family. No words could say how grateful that I am to have all of these supporters who supported us.”

In addition to the foundation, Chanda has stepped in has been very involved with making sure that individuals understood what the foundation meant and how they could help others with ALS. “I have always reached out a helping hand to help others with this disease. I would want to make this foundation worldwide, because people have to understand how serious this disease is, how to make their family comfortable, and just having a support system that is very encouraging.”

“We were like, who can afford this, who can live, continue living with having a disease like this with so much equipment and supplies and things. OJ and I — we were so blessed and we have the resources and people here — let’s be there to help others.””Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and that’s what OJ and I are fighting for. There is a way that we can continue to still live, maybe in a different way than what we’re used to, but we can. They still can live after being diagnosed.”

“We never would have imagined 20 years ago that we would be sitting in this position, but since we are here, we’re gonna look at the glass halfway full, instead of halfway empty. We’re gonna say here’s where we are, here’s where the road of life has taken us, what can we do positive, how can we make a difference.”

This year Chanda was named “Woman of the Year.” “I couldn’t believe it, and then I cried like a baby.” She was very thankful to be honored. In the upcoming weeks, the foundation is planning a birthday party for her husband.

On Friday October 21 2016 the foundation will be throwing O.J. a birthday party within a charity event. Top 40 artist ESNAVI will be there to perform a live concert.

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