Heartbreaking - Luton Shelton struggles with chronic disease
Heartbroken. That is word that best describes how Luton Shelton Sr feels about what has happened to his son, the former Jamaican striker.
Luton Shelton has been afflicted with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly called Lou Gehrig's disease.
This illness affects Shelton's nerve cells, brains, and spinal cord. The once tall and physically imposing striker has lost a significant amount of muscle mass and also his speech.
"We've done a lot of intensive reading on the sickness itself," Shelton Sr told THE WEEKEND STAR. "I remember even when the doctor was talking about it. He was telling us to go on the Internet and read about it. It really affected him mentally. Sometimes he sits down and asks: 'Why me? Why me?'
"We sometimes ask him to get up and go out. It's easier for us to say, than a person who is prominent, and everybody been asking: 'What happen to you?', and he can't relay it. Sometimes he'd say to me: 'Daddy, when mi a go talk? Everybody a talk and a laugh, but what can I partake in?' It's really dreadful in itself to know that it's one of those sicknesses that really locks you off from your social life."
Luton Shelton, Jamaica's most prolific scorer with 35 international goals, had been missing from the limelight since his looping header scored for his club Harbour View against Tivoli Gardens in the Red Stripe Premier League in February 2017. This led fans to speculate about his whereabouts and well-being.
Many persons only found out about his illness via a viral video on social media.
Shelton, when in Jamaica, resides in upper St Andrew with his father, Luton Shelton Sr, and long-term partner, Bobbette. The couple have been together for 13 years and have raised three young children ages nine, eight, and three together. They will be celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary in December.
Both Shelton Sr and Bobbette are always by the former footballer's side, as they are key to helping him around the house and interpreting his now guttural speech.
Mrs Shelton said that her husband has related to her many times just how much he wishes he could speak again.
"For all his sickness, if he could trade it for just his speech," she said. "If he could still be able to speak and have his voice, that's the only issue. Even if he still has his weaknesses here and there, the voice, that's his main concern."
"If he starts a conversation, once you understand the line of conversation, you just put everything together. Some words are unclear but you just know exactly what he's saying. I dunno, I guess because I'm here with him all day, every day, and I just read his lips, so it's easier for me."
Since learning of Shelton's condition, Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange has said that her ministry will donate $5 million to his treatment.