Roberta Flack has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to a statement released by her publicist on Monday. The disease has rendered the 85-year-old Grammy-winning artist unable to sing.

Also Read| Top 5 Roberta Flack songs

Here are 5 celebrities who have been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis:

1) Stephen Hawking

The renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has been instrumental in popularising his theories on quantum gravity and blackholes. However, a form of the motor-neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has kept him confined to a wheelchair for a large portion of his time in the public spotlight (ALS). And since 1985, he has needed round-the-clock care and to communicate through his recognisable computer system, which he controls with his cheek.

But his illness does not appear to have slowed him down. Hawking was a full professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge for 30 years. He is also the research director at the school’s Center for Theoretical Cosmology.

Hawking’s illness, like his mind, appears to be unique. Most people with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famous baseball player who died from it, are diagnosed after the age of 50 and die within five years. Hawking’s condition was discovered when he was 21, and he was not expected to live past the age of 25.

2) Jason Becker

Another well-known person who is still alive, managing ALS, and producing a body of work is musician Jason Becker. Becker, who was born in 1969, is 45 years old right now. He received industry attention for his guitar skills and was diagnosed with ALS in his early 20s, not long after performing with famed Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth on his solo tour.

Doctors estimated his prognosis after his diagnosis to be between three and five years. Years after being informed that he had ALS, Becker surpassed expectations by continuing to live a normal life and make music. Becker was able to carry on recording after switching to thin guitar strings to accommodate his condition. Becker’s ALS worsened, leaving him speechless and crippled. But his father created a tool that enables the guitarist to speak by using his eyes. Becker’s ALS keeps him confined to a chair, but his mind and musical ear are still as acute as ever. He still writes music today, collaborating with other musicians to create both his own music and theirs.

Since receiving his diagnosis, Becker has released five original, full-length albums, the most recent of which was Collection in 2008, followed by a 2012 collection of rare songs the guitarist recorded when he was a teenager. 

Also Read| Roberta Flack diagnosed with ALS, can no longer sing

3) John Driskell Hopkins

On tour this summer with one of the top country music groups, John Driskell Hopkins sings and plays guitar for the Zac Brown Band, taking centre stage the entire time.

Hopkins, though, has been fighting ALS in secret. He first noticed problems with his guitar-playing in 2019, and just before Christmas last year, he received a diagnosis. ALS, often known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, eventually results in the total loss of muscle function. Inside of their own bodies, patients are entrapped. No known treatment exists.

Jennifer Hopkins, Hopkins’ wife, thinks there isn’t enough conversation about it because of the tragic conclusion.

He has a purpose because he and his wife have three daughters together. Hopkins is concerned about what his family will face as a result of the diagnosis.

“I worry about what it means to her [Jennifer]. ‘Cause I don’t wanna ruin her adult life. This is the most beautiful woman in the world. She could find anyone tomorrow. But I don’t wanna burden this one,” he stated.

4) Rebecca Luker

Rebecca Luker, a Broadway actor, disclosed that she received an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis diagnosis in 2019 and that she intends to “fight and continue forward” despite having the degenerative disease.

The three-time Tony Award nominee announced the news in a short message on Twitter stating – “Hello friends. I have some tough news. Late last year I was diagnosed with ALS. I have the best medical care in the world and the greatest support. My dear husband Danny has been an angel. I will get well. In the meantime, we fight and go forward. Keep us in your thoughts.”

Luker began her Broadway career in 1988 as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera, and she has received Tony Award nominations for her work in Show Boat, The Music Man, and Mary Poppins.

Also Read| What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?

5) Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig’s disease is another name for ALS. Between 1923 until 1939, the team’s namesake, Lou Gehrig, started at first base for the New York Yankees. He was referred to as “the Iron Horse” because of his high batting average, long career, and role in the team’s six World Series victories. He had the record for 23 grand slams before Alex Rodriguez just broke it. Because of his outstanding performances on the field, he became the first MLB player to have his number formally retired.

Gehrig’s hitting average decreased from 343 to an unusually low 143 in 1939. He had felt flimsy and shaky lately. Even his coordination and ability to run the bases were wrong, as witnessed by spectators and teammates. Gehrig visited the Mayo Clinic in the same year and learned he had ALS, which would end his career. In front of a full stadium on June 21, 1939, Gehrig announced his retirement from the game and delivered one of the most moving, moving speeches ever. In the same year, he was also admitted to the Hall of Fame.