- Wally Lewis says he’s afraid of what his future will be like
- He sought professional help after Paul Green’s suicide
- Lewis has since been diagnosed with probable CTE.
‘The King’ Wally Lewis once ruled the State of Origin with an iron fist.
Lewis, who represented Queensland in 31 matches, led the state’s dominance from 1980 to 1991, winning eight player of the match awards before being branded an NRL Immortal in 1999.
But after being diagnosed with probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), his mortality has never been clearer.
“I’m afraid of what my future will be like, so I try not to think about it too much,” he said.
‘We all thought we were 10 feet tall and bulletproof.
Wally Lewis (pictured with partner Lynda Adams) has been diagnosed with probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the fatal brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head.
Lewis said he sought professional help after the tragic suicide of first-place Cowboys coach Paul Green in 2022.
“But for most of us, the reality was that it was causing us extensive long-term damage (and was) something we weren’t dealing with.”
CTE is a brain condition associated with repeated head injuries that often worsens over time and can lead to dementia.
Speaking at a panel on Dementia Australia from Parliament on Tuesday, the 64-year-old laid bare his struggles.
At first, they were just fleeting moments of forgetfulness.
But these began to repeat themselves with “monotonous regularity.”
“I was kind of in a bad mood, and then came the confusion and then the denial,” he said.
“My best friends, my co-workers… it soon became very evident by the expressions on their faces.”
After 23 years presenting sports for the 6pm bulletin, he had to stop doing it.
The rugby league legend says he is afraid of what his future will be like.
Lewis played for Queensland in 31 matches and spearheaded the state’s Origin dominance from 1980 to 1991.
Although his bosses supported him and made accommodations that would allow him to tell detailed sports stories, Lewis couldn’t shake the feelings of shame and failure.
But in 2022, when Paul Green, another Queensland State of Origin star, committed suicide and was revealed to have advanced CTE, Lewis knew things had to change and made an appointment with a neurologist.
“I had heard dozens of denials from former soccer players and I didn’t want to be one more of them,” he said.
He received his diagnosis in 2023 and has been learning to live with it ever since.
Lewis now relies on his diary to refresh his memory and receives support from his partner Lynda Adams, who calls him frequently during the day.
But the government and institutions must do more to protect future generations of sports stars.
“We need to educate our children more intelligently,” he said.
“Returning to the field with a head injury is not an honor, it is pure carelessness.”
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