MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The latest addition to the Miami Heat is Ray Allen. What you may not know about the team's newest star is how close he came to losing one of the most important people in his life, his shining light: his young son.
Walker Allen is five years old, and just like his father, he loves basketball. He's constantly in motion, barely sitting still long enough to check his blood sugar level, something he needs to do. Walker has Type 1 Diabetes which means his body doesn't produce insulin.
The nightmare began during the 2008 NBA Finals. Ray's Boston Celtics were facing the Los Angeles Lakers.
Walker, just 17 months old, was very sick. So his mother Shannon took him to a hospital in Los Angeles for a blood test. She said that typically a person's blood sugar level is between 70 and 120. Walkers was 639. The doctor told Shannon that Walker's blood sugar was literally poisoning him to death.
"It was like the rug was pulled out from under us," Shannon said. The doctor said that if Walker didn't get insulin soon, he would die.
Fortunately Walker got that insulin. And three days later was well enough to celebrate the NBA Championship with his father.
"This is the first time I've ever seen him (Ray) terrified," Shannon said. She said that Ray was grateful it was something that could be treated.
Shannon has worked hard to educate herself and those around her about diabetes. It's come at a cost – especially to her sleep schedule. They have three other boys and a daughter at college, but still Shannon gets up every two hours every single night to make sure that Walker's blood sugar level is where it needs to be and that he's okay. She also stays with him at school to administer his insulin shots. He gets between five to seven a day.
She also carefully watches what Walker, and the rest of the family, eats.
"We're so diligent about everything we put in our mouths," she said.
Shannon said she is glad Ray's job in the spotlight allows her to shine light onto diabetes.
"Parents have to know we almost lost our child. And that 40 percent of the time parents bury their baby because of a simple blood test."
Three million people in the US are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
For more information, visit www.jdrf.org.
for more features.