SALT LAKE CITY — The disease that’s stealing Jerry Sloan’s memory hasn’t taken his sense of humor. We are in the lobby of a downtown hotel, this week, meeting several others for lunch. I ask if he ever hears from Jeff Hornacek.

“I don’t talk to someone with that kind of money,” he says.

Lewy body dementia (LBD) raises havoc with memory, movement and cognitive ability. Five years after his diagnosis, Sloan’s hand trembles and his recall wavers. But he still can make people smile. When I saw him a few months ago, I asked what he had been doing lately.

“I had my breakfast,” he said.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Jerry and Tammy Sloan attend the Utah Jazz vs. the Orlando Magic game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019.

There is a quiet, sad sweetness about the former Jazz coach these days. The unflinching warrior didn’t choose this silent war. His stance has always been to outwork the enemy. That now involves a daily four-mile walk. But cold weather and a sick dog have sidelined him the last six weeks.

On New Year’s Day he was entirely his old self, his wife Tammy says. But he later went through what both call a “rough” period. There is no medication that can reverse, slow or stop LBD, but there are treatments to ease symptoms.

Sloan has his own remedy. He attends nearly all Jazz home games, sitting with Tammy, a half dozen rows behind the team bench, willingly shaking hands and posing with star-struck fans. He watches all road games on TV.

Life has humbled him, but that happened long before LBD struck. He grew up literally dirt poor in rural Illinois. He lost his father at age 4, his first wife Bobbye to cancer and, shortly after, a brother passed away.

Throughout, he kept his farmer-dry sense of humor. He once conducted interviews a few feet from a luxury sports car, parked inside the Jazz arena. Asked if it was his, Sloan said, “I couldn’t even afford the tires.”

Recently he had difficulty calculating numbers as they shopped for a car. Yet his memory of names and people remains good. He seems embarrassed when asked if he realizes how revered he is in Utah.

“It’s hard for me to react,” he says.

Tammy dotes on him, cooks for him, protects him. Compounding his battle with LBD is Parkinson’s disease, which inhibits motor …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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