When thinking about LSU Basketball in the late 80s and early 90s, everyone’s first thought goes to Shaquille O’Neil-- but there was another standout player during that time that made even Shaq complain about his lack of touches.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, formerly known as Chris Jackson, was a standout player for LSU. He set the NCAA record for points by a freshman and points per game. He was also named SEC Player of the Year and first team All-American two years in a row.
But behind these statistics, stands a man who faces an internal battle with Tourette’s syndrome.
The average age of being diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome is around nine. However, Mahmoud Abdul Rauf was not diagnosed until after he was already a national basketball prospect.
“I wasn’t diagnosed until going into the eleventh grade with Tourette’s syndrome. So, all that time up until the eleventh grade my body is doing strange things I can’t explain,” Abdul-Rauf said.
Abdul-Rauf also touched on the way Tourette’s affects his game.
“It’s like Tourette’s syndrome played mind games. You’re dribbling, and if you mess up, it’s like you mess up about three times, and I’m headed this way, I would have to walk back about another ten steps from where I came from because I have to do the same move. Whatever I did right, I would have to do it left. It may take me another 45 minutes to an hour to get to the basketball goal. So, in about an hour and a half, you’re huffing and puffing. You’re ready to go. Little Chris Jackson ready to go home. So now, Tourette’s Syndrome steps in and says you can’t go nowhere until you play me,” Abdul-Rauf said.
This dedication to the game put immense pressure on his body.
“There were mornings I would wake up literally, I’m crying because I know what I’m going to have to put my body through," Abdul-Rauf said. "When I say I have so many near death experiences, it’s mostly every day I trained because Chris Jackson wanted to leave, but Tourette’s said you can’t go."
However, Abdul-Rauf maintains a positive outlook on life with Tourette’s syndrome.
“I don’t think I would be the basketball player or the person because Tourette’s, in particular with basketball, took me where I myself would not have gone without it. When I wanted to quit, it said you can’t quit. So, I’ve learned to see the benefits in it. For many years I said I don’t look at, and I know you used the world disability, I said no. I don’t look at it as a disability, I look at it as a blessing.” Abdul-Rauf said.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf currently participates in a league for retired NBA players called the Big3. He continues to inspire people through his love for basketball and personal resilience.