Former NFL player Eric Stevens, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis last summer, is going to be a dad.
The St. Louis Rams fullback-turned-firefighter and his wife, Amanda Stevens, announced on Wednesday that they will welcome a baby girl in January.
“It’s definitely the good news we’ve been needing!” Amanda told TODAY Parents.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The average life expectancy for people with ALS is two to five years, according to the ALS Association.
In the last year, Eric's strength has deteriorated. The 6-foot athlete, who was captain of the football team at the University of California, Berkeley, can no longer lift his arms above his head and struggles to get out of a chair.
“We talk about what the future looks like,” Amanda revealed. “Yesterday Eric looked at me and said, ‘I hope I can still hold the baby when she comes. He’ll also say things like, ‘When she’s grown up, make sure you do this with her,’ as though he isn’t going to be here.”
The elementary school teacher always reminds her husband that they have to just take it one day at a time.
“That’s the mentality we have to have. We have to focus on what we can control right now and that’s being excited and preparing to be parents,” she explained.
The couple, who live in Los Angeles, are currently advocating for ALS-related legislation related to the disease, including H.R. 7071. If the bill passes it would accelerate patient access to ALS treatments that are showing promising results in clinical trials. But in order for the bill to be introduced to Congress and voted on, it needs 100 to 125 sponsors. Currently, they only have 50 sponsors.
"We're in a race against time," Amanda told TODAY Parents.
Amanda and Eric, who met in college, celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary last month.
"Even though this has been the hardest year of our lives, it has brought us closer than ever," she wrote on Instagram at the time. "I didn’t think it was possible, but I fall more and more in love with you each and every day. You make me the happiest girl in the world and I am so lucky to live this crazy life with you."