UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Former Penn State fullback and co-captain Steve Smith will not be able to attend the 1986 national championship reunion this weekend.
He has been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, for the past nine years.
The degenerative disease is fatal, and most people living with it survive only a couple of years.
Smith, who had a nine-year NFL career, has lost the ability to control his muscles and is bedridden. He can no longer walk or talk and relies on a computer controlled by his eye movements to communicate.
The 1986 team will be introduced at halftime of the game against Iowa. Smith will be represented at the reunion by his parents and his children, Dante and Jazmin.
Smith's family and friends, along with the Penn State Football Letterman's club, have launched a campaign and website to support him and his family to help cover their ongoing medical expenses.
Ron Musselman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .