Former West Coast Eagles star Ashley Sampy has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, one of the most common central nervous system diseases in Australia.
The small striker’s diagnosis was revealed by Ernie Dingo on Facebook on Monday night with a call to support the MS Foundation.
Dingo shared a heartfelt message from 38-year-old Sampi in which he described his emotions when he learned he had an illness last Tuesday.
“It would be too difficult to tell you what I am going through and what awaits my future path for myself and, more importantly, for my wonderful and beautiful wife Jerry and our children,” Sampi said in a statement.
“The diagnosis was hard to accept, but I have such great support (and) I know everything will be fine.
“I know it sounds bad, but Jerry and I are in a good mood, and with neurologists and my treatment plan I’m looking forward, not lagging behind, and by the grace of God I can live a normal life for myself and my family. ”
Sampi said his family is still tolerating the diagnosis, and asked for a place to review his situation.
Growing up in Perth, Geraldton and Jaragin on the Dampier Peninsula, north of Broome, his talent was seen playing for Trinity College and then in South Fremantle.
The veteran with 78 games was drafted by the West Coast in 2001 and made his debut the following year against Geelong.
He scored 97 goals and in 2004 was awarded the badge of the year for winning the air battle against the demons in the fourth round.
Despite the great prospect, Sampi’s career was cut short in 2007 due to personal concerns.
He later revealed that he struggled with alcoholism and depression, battling the loss of a cousin and deteriorating relationships.
Sampi managed to turn his life around and until 2013 worked in the mining industry and played local feet for Armadale and then Toodyay.
He also played alongside Demons and Fremantle Dockers legend Jeff Farmer for Wickham Wolves in 2011.
In his post on Dingo’s page, Sampi called on friends and supporters to support the 50,000-strong MS Foundation challengein which he set himself the goal of walking, running or cycling 100 km per month.
Nerve damage due to MS disrupts the connection between the brain and the body.
Symptoms may include vision loss, pain, fatigue, and incoordination.
There is no known cure for the disease, which affects about 25,000 Australians, but treatment can cope with the symptoms.