Brigance fights ALS, celebrates birthday

Brigance fights ALS, celebrates birthday
September 27, 2013, 2:45 pm
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(Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports)

The Ravens shared a touching moment after practice Friday, celebrating the birthday of O. J. Brigance, the team’s director of player development who will turn 44 years old Sunday.

Brigance was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) five years ago, and is confined to a wheelchair. However, Brigance is at the team's practice facility working every day during the week, and is often an observer at practice.

The team gathered around Brigance in the team cafeteria and sang happy birthday. Then both coach John Harbaugh and running back Ray Rice addressed the team, talking about how much Brigance has inspired the entire organization.

“When you got a guy like that, who’s not looking for any excuses, who are we to complain?” Rice said. “That’s for everybody. When you know his story, know what he’s been through, and you know what he’s going through on a daily basis? Kind of brings a sigh of gratefulness you just can’t explain.

“It’s kind of weird. Just a year ago, Ray Lewis was over there giving that speech. Just shows how long O. J. has been battling this. Now that I was able to give that speech, and know what it meant to give a speech for O. J., (it) really meant a lot to me.”