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Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins on what he told daughters about his fatal disease

Hopkins, a bass player for the Zac Brown Band, shared how his ALS struggle affects his three daughters.
C2C Country 2 Country Music Festival 2014 Day 1 At London O2 Arena
John Driskell Hopkins of the Zac Brown Band revealed how his ALS diagnosis affects his three daughters. (Photo by Christie Goodwin/Redferns via Getty Images)Christie Goodwin / Redferns via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Musician John Driskell Hopkins is sharing how his daughters inspire him to face his ALS diagnosis like "a warrior."

On May 20, Hopkins, a founding member and multi-instrumentalist in the Zac Brown Band, revealed that he is living with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease of the nervous system. ALS is also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the former MLB player who died from it in 1941

Now, Hopkins is sharing with People how life is different with his wife Jennifer and their three children.

Hopkins told the outlet that during a 2019 tour, he struggled to play the bass as quickly and slurred his speech. Over the next two years, he visited doctor after doctor before he was given an ALS diagnosis.  It was a tough adjustment for the couple.

"In that first month, I spent a lot of time in my closet and the shower crying because I didn’t want our daughters to see me that way," Jennifer Hopkins told People. 

The Mayo Clinic says ALS is a loss of muscle control which affects the ability to walk, talk, speak, eat and breathe. Some ALS patients also develop dementia

There’s no cure for ALS and no way to prevent it from happening. The cause is largely unknown, however 10% to 15% percent of cases are hereditary. 

Related: Zac Brown Band's John Driskell Hopkins reveals ALS diagnosis

According to the Cleveland Clinic, people with ALS commonly live anywhere from three to five years after diagnosis, however, it’s possible to live for 10 years or longer. 

Hopkins and and Jennifer, who live in Atlanta, Ga., are sensitive when talking to their children. "They’re young, so they don’t know the gravity of this disease yet, which is fine for us right now," Jennifer told People of 13-year-old Sarah Grace and 10-year-old twins Lily Faith and Margaret Hope. 

Related: Grieving parents who lost son to ALS get a powerful Christmas surprise

However, their daughters have questions. Hopkins shared with People that he tripped on the sidewalk due to his balance issues in front of his daughters. 

"Grace asked, 'Could you die?' I said, 'Yes.' Faith said, 'Could you be in a wheelchair?' I said, 'Yes.' Hope started crying." 

Hopkins added, "They didn’t quite understand it, and they still don’t, really. But neither do we."

Hopkins is "ready to fight this disease," he told People. "I want to show my girls what a warrior their dad is."

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