According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, most people with MS have a normal or near-normal life expectancy.
Often, those who are unfamiliar with the disease confuse it with muscular dystrophy or other degenerative conditions that can devolve much more quickly, so Wright and his agent believe that getting teams the right information is crucial to convincing them he’s a safe investment.
Still, Wright said his condition has scared off some teams.
“I think it had a major impact last summer because I was trying to get in summer league and teams backed off. I had a few deals, and teams backed off at the last minute,” Wright said. “It was a tough situation for me last summer.”
Crayton said teams who have asked her about Wright view him as a risk, a mentality she calls “inappropriate because they’re just judging MS as a whole, not Chris Wright with MS.”
After no team would give him a summer league shot in 2012, Wright played last season with the Iowa Energy in the NBA Development League. Wright was named to a D-League all-star roster and earned a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks, though that contract was not renewed.
Now, after an incident-free season in the D-League, Wright has earned summer league gigs with the Brooklyn Nets in Orlando and the San Antonio Spurs in Las Vegas. The self-proclaimed gym rat works out daily near Bowie, where he lives with his girlfriend and 4-month-old son, Chris Wright Jr. (“Deuce”).
Last weekend, Wright hosted the first annual MS Basketball Jamboree at St. John’s High.
The event featured weight and conditioning training tips for kids, a few words from Crayton about life with MS, a charity game and appearances from NBA players and former Georgetown standouts Jeff Green and Greg Monroe and Hoyas Coach John Thompson III.
Being the first NBA player with MS means a great deal to Wright, who found inspiration in the fact that he received his diagnosis during MS Awareness Week.
“I remember, I asked Dr. Crayton, ‘Do you know any NBA players that have MS?’ ” Wright recalled. “She looked into it and said, ‘No, I don’t.’ I said, ‘Okay, well that’s my goal.”
And while he achieved the goal with that brief stint with the Mavericks, Wright is hungry to stick at the highest level and serve as a role model to others with his condition as he does so.
“I have to get with the right organization for myself, a good fit. And when I get out there, I have to produce; it’s as simple as that,” Wright said. “Sometimes it may not be the perfect situation, but you’ve got to find a way to make it the perfect situation for yourself. Every obstacle has something good and bad out of it.”