Former Titan finds strength while living with ALS

In this Aug. 28, 2014, file photo, former Tennessee Titans linebacker Tim Shaw is doused as he takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge during a preseason NFL football game between the Titans and the Minnesota Vikings in Nashville, Tenn. Shaw, diagnosed with ALS in April 2014, is helping revive the challenge with the ALS Association hoping to turn August 2015 into an annual fundraiser similar to October represents breast cancer awareness month. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Words like ‘great strength’ and ‘enormous power’ are used to define the word titan.

Former Tennessee Titan Tim Shaw, 31, physically fit well into that mold before he was diagnosed with ALS.

In a physical sense, Shaw is no doubt changing. But the power and determination of his spirit is as strong as it has ever been.

Shaw says his disease has allowed him to discover who he really is, and that person may not be what the public is used to seeing – the supreme athlete, the difference maker for three years in Nashville.

Shaw’s ALS diagnosis came last April. He’s called the last 16 months a roller coaster.

“I thought my life was fast paced before, but the days just don’t have enough hours in them,” said Shaw during his own ‘ice bucket challenge.’ “I’ve noticed a lot of change… I definitely need a lot more help than I’ve ever needed.”

His elite speed is gone. He doesn’t have the strength to do a push up, but he’s faced all the challenges with inspiring courage.

“Dealing with that emotional part is equally as tough as the physical. It’s the admitting that you’re losing something,” said Shaw.

He may not be the athlete fans saw on the field, but the Shaw of today is just as amazing.

His prognosis hasn’t changed, so Shaw is making the most of this opportunity and working with the ALS foundation in Tennessee.

He’s been told people look up to him, but he sees it another way. “So humbling to see someone fighting for years and years. And someone adapting to limitations, pushing through the most difficult things that any of us can imagine – it’s so inspiring to me.”

This Tim Shaw isn’t the man in the helmet or jersey, but the man who said he has a disease that strips all of that away, and what’s underneath is remarkable.

“It’s in losing those things that I actually gained to see who I really am. To take everything away, I’m still me. I’m still Tim Shaw,” he said.

The champion, the competitor, clearly hasn’t gone anywhere.

To learn more about the Tennessee chapter of the ALS foundation, click here.

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