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Faces of MS: Son of boxing legend says disease won't knock him out

Ray Robinson II with his eldest daughter, CoCo, on February 16, 2010. Courtesy of Michele Dupey

Michele Dupey says she's become more compassionate and understanding toward her husband, Ray Robinson II, who has Multiple Sclerosis after she suffered a concussion and experienced some temporary cognitive impairment.

"Sometimes I scream and get impatient (with him)," Dupey said. "I thought brain damage was constant, but with MS it's intermittent," she said.

Robinson, 63, the son of the boxing legend Sugar Ray Robinson, says he first started experiencing symptoms of MS when he was in his 30s.

MS is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system where the body attacks the protective layers around the nerves, disturbing signals from the brain and the body, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

"One day I decided to ride my bike from Manhattan to Rockaway. I was riding in the street and suddenly had vertigo and couldn't catch my balance," he said.

"My mom was dancing, my dad was boxing and I was falling," he joked.

One afternoon in 2011 after finishing his lunch, Robinson got up from his chair and his legs gave out on him.

Once he was able to regain his balance, he went to the hospital, where doctors told him it was likely he has MS.

It wasn't until two years later that he started taking a disease-modifying drug.

"I was at an MS event with Montel Williams (who also has MS) and he asked me which drug I was on. I told him none and he advised I start one," Robinson said.

The Bayonne resident started the monthly intravenous therapy Tysabri, but when his wife noticed him acting differently, she made him go get checked out.

"We had a bad fight and he was acting really nasty and had this glare in his eyes," said Dupey, the public information officer for the Jersey City Free Public Library. "The doctor told me to keep an eye out if Ray starts not acting like himself and this wasn't like him."

It turned out Robinson was showing symptoms of the JC virus that is potentially fatal, so he was taken off the medication.

The JC virus, or John Cunningham Virus, commonly causes infections of no consequence in people with a normal immune system, but is responsible for an infection of the brain and spinal cord called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in people with MS or AIDS and other forms of immune system impairment, according to

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by NJ.COM
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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