Former Baylor basketball star opens up about heart condition

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 11:07 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - While Jared Butler was leading Baylor to a national championship in basketball, he was privately dealing with a serious heart condition.

Leading up to the NBA draft, Butler was held out of pre-draft workouts while the league evaluated his heart.

He was eventually cleared and drafted, joining the Utah Jazz, and allowing him to shed some light on his battle with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM.

At 18 years old, Jared Butler was about to live out his dream as a division one basketball player.

That’s when a routine physical revealed he had HCM, stopping Butler in his tracks.

Butler remembers, “I was super devastated, super confused. It was the first time I had heard about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. It is a long word. I’m like, ‘what is this?’. I just didn’t know what it would for my future, or what it meant for me playing basketball.”

Jared and his family were stunned. How could such a gifted athlete have a condition that can make it difficult for the heart to pump blood?

Jared’s mother, Juanea, says she was shocked: “This child has played just about every sport... so how could this be?”

It turns out HCM is the most common genetic heart disease. That means it was unknowingly passed on to Jared at birth.

Juanea thought there was no chance she was the carrier. She says, “I told my husband, ‘you have to have it because I don’t have it.’ To my surprise, I actually had the gene.”

Fortunately for Jared, he’s asymptomatic, but others aren’t so lucky, and the longer it goes undiagnosed, the worse it can be.

HCM can only be diagnosed by a doctor, and Juanea says there are some key symptoms to look out for.

“It can be as easy as dizziness, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat - you need to look for something along those lines.”

Jared and his doctor closely monitor his HCM, but many people who have the disease go untreated.

Something Jared is hoping he can help change that by raising awareness.

Jared tells me, “It is something that has been a part of my story and I think that is a big thing, to share your story and share what your life experience has been. You never know anybody else that might be going through the same thing.”

Jared has always been a great leader in his community. Now, he is also an inspiration for others managing their HCM.

“Jared is bigger than the game of basketball. He is going to touch a lot of lives out there. I couldn’t be more proud of him, what he stands for, and how he carries himself.”

Jared has partnered with Bristol Myers Squibb to help bring attention the HMC and spread awareness.

You can learn more about Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy by clicking here.

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