Cal Football

Former Cal Captain with ALS Says Baby On Way is 'Fuel to Keep Going'

August 22, 2020
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Last year in October, Eric Stevens was tragically diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a nuerodegenerative disease with no known cure or causes. Stevens had been a firefighter at the Los Angeles Fire Department before being diagnosed, and married former Cal soccer player Amanda Stevens just weeks before. The news was shocking and almost caused Eric to pass out on the spot. That did not deter him and his family, however, from fighting strongly against the dreadful disease.


A year after, Eric and Amanda have been met with great news: a baby girl expected in the coming months! In an interview with People Magazine, Eric says the baby will provide “more fuel to keep going and to keep fighting.” His story is as inspiring as it is dire, with the Cal Bear living a tremendous life of adventure, courage, and aptitude up to this point. Our hearts and prayers are with him and his amazing, supportive family.

 

Patty Hood - Cal Fire Local 2881
Team Stevens Nation posing with former governor Arnold Schwarzanegger

In a fundraising campaign titled Team Stevens Nation, created last October, family members of Eric called for help from the community to assist them in paying an estimated $300,000 a year to treat ALS. So far the campaign has been successful, raking in over 1 million dollars to help Stevens get the treatment he deserves. The fundraiser has brought in so much attention that celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzanegger, Sofia Vergara, and Joe Manganiello have shown their support and made donations.


Some of Eric’s biggest supporters have been his wife Amanda and three older brothers. Two of them are firefighters, and his oldest brother Craig was also a Golden Bear, playing tight end there and for the Tennesse Titans for eight years after. Jeff Fisher, fomer coach of the Titans remembers Craig as a “muscled-up badass, freakin’ hard-working, smart tight end.” When Fisher became coach of the Rams, he signed Eric Stevens as an undrafted free agent in 2013. “That was a no-brainer,” Fisher said. “If this is a Stevens, I’m going to bring this kid to camp.”

At Cal, Stevens was a force to be reckoned with. He was a do-it-all fullback, whose greatest strength was of course blocking, but could also carry the rock, catch it, and make tackles. Strength was his greatest asset, as he was named Cal football’s senior lifter of the year, and bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times at Cal’s pro day. It’s no wonder he was a team captain and nominated for the Burlsworth Trophy, given annually to the nation's most outstanding player who began his collegiate career as a walk-on.

A series of injuries, including a few concussions, caused Eric to end his career as a football player while he was with the St. Louis Rams. He then went onto the next chapter of his life and became a firefighter.

In 2019, the initial symptoms showed up. At work he would drop tools, slip off the pull-up bar, and find difficulty in assuming routine tasks. His speech started to slur, his muscles twitched, and the regression of his bodily functions continued day-by-day. With his wedding day coming up, Eric didn’t want to visit the doctor and cause panic. He waited until after his special day and honeymoon to

make the visit. After 30 minutes of diagnosis, the doctor told him he was positive for ALS. Everything would change.

Today, Eric is still fighting the disease as best he can. The couple has made astounding strides with their fundraising campaign, starting a trendy #AxeALS hashtag, which has been spread by fire departments around the world to gain awareness. They have also pleaded with members of congress, calling for their help in fighting the disease. Everyday is a challenge.

Jamie Sabau - Getty Images
Stevens playing fullback at Cal

With a baby on the way, the Stevens family has been given a much needed boost in energy and morale to help them continue the fight against ALS. “It’s such a gift, and we feel very fortunate and grateful that we’re able to enjoy this moment, because there’s times where I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to, or if I was going to be around to have kids,” says Eric, 30. “And so the fact that we’re able to makes it extra special, and makes her, the baby, extra special, too.”

If you can provide much-needed help to Eric with his fight against ALS, you can make a donation here at the GoFundMe page. The Stevens family can use all the help they can get, and as a Golden Bear family we must fight for those who have fought for us, as the former Cal captain did for five years in Berkeley. Again, our thoughts and prayers are with Eric, Amanda, their family, and their child on-the-way. Go Team Stevens Nation!

Tags: Football
 
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