By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
Antrone “Juice” Moore grew up on Chicago’s South Side during the Michael Jordan-led Bulls dynasty of the 1990s. He played basketball in college and spent more than a decade playing for semi-professional teams throughout North America.
He turned his attention to coaching in 2008, but in 2012, he was in Augusta, Maine, training for an upcoming tryout for the NBA D-League, the organization’s minor leagues.
On Sept. 26, 2012, Moore was exercising on an elliptical machine before his regular lunchtime basketball game at the local YMCA when he began to feel dizzy. He stepped off the machine but couldn’t feel his left leg and called to a friend for help.
Confused about what was happening, Moore called his daughter’s mother, a medical assistant who worked at a hospital nearby. She heard Moore’s slurred speech — a classic stroke sign — and instructed his friend to immediately call 911.
At the hospital, doctors discovered that Moore, then 37, was having a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and causes bleeding in the brain.
Of the estimated 795,000 Americans who have a stroke each year, about 13 percent have hemorrhagic strokes.
Moore was put into a medically-induced coma and transferred to a Portland, Maine, hospital with a stroke center, where doctors removed a piece of his skull to relieve the pressure from the bleeding.
Doctors told his mom, Anna Moore, that he had a 50-50 chance of survival and could be paralyzed.
“The doctor asked my mother, ‘Is he a fighter?’ and she said, ‘He is,’” Moore said.
“It wasn’t my time to go,” he said. “I wanted to be here for my kids. I have two girls and they are my heart.”
Doctors aren’t sure what caused Moore’s stroke, although he had some major risk factors.
Despite being physically fit, Moore had high blood pressure that required medication to control. But because he didn’t have insurance at the time, he’d stopped taking it as prescribed.
High blood pressure affects about 40 percent of African-Americans, according to statistics from the American Heart Association. It also develops earlier in life for African-Americans than for whites, and is usually more severe.
Moore also had a family history. His father had survived two strokes while Moore was in college, and high blood pressure was common on his mom’s side of the family.
Moore awoke from his coma unable to speak or walk. He underwent two months of physical, occupational and speech therapy.
Anna said the months following her son’s stroke were harrowing as he tried to build back his mobility.
“Antrone is the type of person who wants to do everything for himself,” she said. “He couldn’t see himself using a walker, even temporarily, because he wanted to walk with his own strength.”
Moore was eventually granted disability benefits and focused on rebuilding his strength. He was able to return to coaching for youth teams in 2013.
He still struggles to find the right words at times, a common stroke after-effect called aphasia, and continues to have muscle weakness on his left side.
Moore, now 42, lives in Bowling Green, Ohio, and with his cousin, Damien Womack, self-published a book last year about his experience called A Walking Testimony: Stroke Survivor: My Second Chance.
He volunteers with the AHA, sharing his story with other stroke survivors, advocating for greater stroke awareness and acting as a mentor for other patients navigating disability.
“It’s still hard, but I don’t complain,” he said. “Everyone has different circumstances, but it comes down to the will to fight.”