EA: When did you first experience seizures? What type were they?
MS: I started having seizures in the form of atonic seizures (drop attacks) between the ages of 2 and 6. In my teen years and throughout my adult life, I have dealt with both petit mal and tonic-clonic seizures.
EA: How did your family handle your epilepsy?
MS: I am sure it was probably tough for them at first because it was so unknown, but they have always been a great support system for me and helped me every step of the way. It is so important to create a communication network and have people you can count on.
EA: How did you get involved with basketball?
MS: When I was 7, I could not hop, skip, had really slow motor skills and was in special-ed gym class. My father gave me a basketball to see if I could develop my coordination; I guess basketball became my best therapy.
EA: When did you first realize you wanted to help other people who had epilepsy?
MS: When I became a Harlem Wizard, I wanted to be that role model with epilepsy who was never out there for me. I knew it was my obligation to use my God-given abilities to take it to another level.
EA: You do a lot of work as an advocate. Can you tell us about that and some of the projects like Bounce Out the Stigma and your involvement with the Epilepsy Foundation?
MS: Advocacy is my ambition. Bounce Out the Stigma&trade is a wonderful educational program, highlighted by our annual summer basketball camps designed specifically for children with special needs. The Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey has been a wonderful partner and our goal is to eventually expand nationally. We are also in talks to produce a DVD, which would be awesome! My work with the Epilepsy Foundation includes years of speaking and performing at many different events with affiliates and on a national level. My favorite event each year is the Epilepsy Foundation’s Kids Speak Up! and the Public Policy Institute’s national conference in Washington, DC.
EA: What do you think is the most important thing for people with epilepsy and their caregivers to know?
MS: Managing epilepsy is a balancing act. Make sure you eat right, get your sleep, take your medication and, most important, find a hobby and get active. Those points are so important for everyone involved.
EA: Are there any other things you'd like readers to know about your experiences or about epilepsy?
MS: Epilepsy is a condition just like anything else. In my experiences I have found that if you just get out and be active, you can truly feel good about yourself. Don’t spend your life on the sidelines!