Famous People with Asthma
Athletes and Dancers
Football (Soccer) Player, Model, Entrepreneur
English former professional footballer who played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, Milan, LA Galaxy, Paris Saint-Germain, and the England national team for which he holds the appearance record for an outfield player. Beckham clearly never let asthma stop him on and off the field as he is considered one of the world’s greatest and highest paid athletes. He only revealed that he has asthma several years ago yet he has in fact had it since childhood and, according to his agent, hopes that his story inspires others with asthma that they too can achieve great things.
Alternate Captain for the New York Rangers of (National Hockey League)
Girardi has played his entire National Hockey League career in the New York Rangers organization. Dan Girardi has had asthma since he was a child but with a medical plan and preparation he was able to keep his asthma in check and become one of the best hockey players in the NHL.
Watch our PSA with Dan Girardi.
Dancer, Teacher, Producer, Choreographer, and Co-founder of the Joffrey Ballet
Dance legend who developed dynamic work from new choreographers as well as works by such established choreographers as George Balanchine, Alvin Ailey and Twyla Tharp. The Joffrey Ballet was the first to perform at the White House and have a major film devoted to the company. Robert took up dancing as a child because his doctor believed the breathing techniques taught in class would help him control his asthma symptoms.
Football (Soccer) Player
The all-time leading scorer for Chelsea and is regarded as their greatest player ever, having been named three time Chelsea Player of the Year and all-time top goal scorer. He is currently a midfielder for the New York City FC in Major League Soccer. As a teen he suffered asthma attacks and is quoted as saying, “My dad suffered from asthma and so did I as a kid. I used to suffer in games where I’d have attacks.” Despite these asthma setbacks he was able to have one of the most successful football (soccer) careers which proves with a proper game plan you can win and will win with asthma.
Women’s Marathon World Record Holder
A world-class long distance runner, Paula holds 10 world records. She controls her health by using a preventative inhaler first thing in the morning and before she goes to bed at night and a reliever inhaler before exercising. “If you learn to manage your asthma and take the correct medication, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be the best.”
A twelve-time Olympic medalist, Dara is the first American swimmer to have competed in five Olympics. At 41, she broke her own American record in the 50m freestyle, set when she was 15. Read Our Exclusive Interview With Dara Torres.
Amy Van Dyken
A six-time gold medalist, Amy was the first American woman ever to win gold (in 1996). Diagnosed with severe asthma at 18 months of age, she began swimming on the advice of a doctor as a way to strengthen her lungs. Of her asthma, Amy says, “I’ve never thought of it as an obstacle…it’s actually made me stronger. Six golds in two Olympics.
Dancing with the Stars
Anna was diagnosed with asthma at age 3 but she never let it stop her from pursuing her dream of being a professional dancer. She found that her asthma was triggered by pollution, dust, animals and fried foods. However, Anna discovered that regular breathing exercises, yoga, stress relief and a healthy diet helped control her asthma symptoms and allowed her to compete at the highest level.
NBA Dallas Mavericks Player
A professional NBA basketball player with asthma who, in 2007, met with a 13-year-old basketball player (who also has asthma) in an effort to spread awareness that asthma and athletics can go hand-in-hand.
Former NBA Player
A Basketball Hall of Famer, Dominique, dubbed “The Human Highlight Film” is one of the most prolific scorers and best dunkers in NBA history. He’s been quoted as saying, “Asthma is not a deterrent to playing sports.”
Former full back for the Washington Redskins. He played college football at the University of Miami and was drafted in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft. Donnell has asthma and it didn’t stop him from being a top-level competitor.
Jerome “The Bus” Bettis
Former NFL Halfback
Diagnosed with asthma when he was 14, the former long-time halfback on a Super Bowl Pittsburgh Steeler team has a championship attitude towards his chronic condition: “I look at my asthma like the team I’m going to play against on Sunday. I train and I prepare to win.”
Former NFL Player
A three-time Super Bowl champion and the NFL’s all-time rushing leader, Emmitt played for the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals. He battled asthma during his football career. Asthma did not stop him from becoming the only running back to ever win a Super Bowl championship, the NFL Most Valuable Player award, the NFL rushing crown, and the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player award all in the same season. He’s also the winner of the 2006 “Dancing with the Stars” reality TV competition.
Gold Medal Figure Skater
The 1992 Winter Olympics gold medalist in Albertville, France, Kristi was World Champion twice, in 1991 and 1992, and U.S. National Champion in 1992. Kristi proved her prowess as a ballroom dancer as a winner of the popular television show “Dancing with the Stars”. She is one of several Olympic Gold medalists with asthma who has not let it stop her from greatness. In fact, roughly 8 percent of Olympians have asthma, according to researchers at the University of Western Australia in Perth, making it the most common chronic health condition among the athletes.
Actors, Actresses & Directors
Actress, Model and Entrepreneur
An award winning actress who has appeared in 36 films and various television shows. She has won a Golden Globe and People’s Choice Award. Jessica created the Honest Company to provide environmentally friendly products. During childhood, she suffered from partially collapsed lungs, pneumonia, and asthma. She persevered through her physical and emotional ailments and succeeded both in entertainment and business.
An award-winning actress, director and producer, Diane discovered she had asthma in adulthood. It certainly has not stopped her from living an active life having appeared in over 40 films and winning multiple Golden Globes, Emmys and an Oscar.
Academy Award-Winning Film Director
An award-winning film director, writer and producer, Martin, who’s had asthma since childhood, is considered to be one of the most influential and noteworthy filmmakers of his era. “As a kid, I had terrible asthma…so films were a place of refuge,” he says.
Singers, Musicians & Composers
Award Winning Composer, Conductor, Author, Music Lecturer, and Pianist
Bernstein was the music director of the Philharmonic, and wrote the music for West Side Story, Peter Pan, Candide, Wonderful Town, On the Town, On The Waterfront as well as other acclaimed works. He is the recipient of Nine Grammy Awards and two Tony Awards and is considered one of the world’s greatest and most beloved composers and conductors. Asthma was a constant presence in Bernstein’s life since childhood. Unfortunately, in adulthood his asthma was further aggravated by chain-smoking and he reportedly developed emphysema late in life which contributed to his death.
Singer-songwriter, Musician, Venture Capitalist, Businessman, and Philanthropist
Legendary lead vocalist for the rock band U2 and has won 22 Grammy Awards. Bono is a leading philanthropist and the co-founder of the One Campaign and Product Red whose mission is to raise money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. Bono has asthma but that doesn’t stop him from consistently delivering high octane vocals and energetic performances as the lead singer of one of the most popular bands or from throwing himself whole-heartedly into humanitarian work.
Singer, Pianist, Songwriter, Composer
Six-time Grammy Award winner, who is one of the most prolific and best-selling recording artists. He is the sixth best-selling recording artist and the third best-selling solo artist in the United States. He was nominated for 23 Grammy Awards and has a residency at Madison Square Garden playing one concert a month indefinitely. Having asthma has clearly not prevented him from belting out so many legendary tunes and being one of the world’s greatest singer-songwriters.
Rapper, Songwriter, Record Producer, and Actor
Received 15 Grammy Awards and an Oscar for Best Song. The film, 8 Mile, was based on his life. Eminem was named the King of Hip-Hop by Rolling Stone. According to his mother, he has been suffering from respiratory illnesses since early in his life, and has always been asthmatic. Yet, he has managed to become one of the most well known rappers who rhymes without stopping to take a breath.
A sassy singer-songwriter who gained prominence in 2000, Pink developed asthma when she was a child. Her doctor suggested she take vocal lessons to learn to breathe from her lower abdomen instead of her chest while belting tunes a technique that helped her manage her asthma when performing.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Composer, Virtuoso Pianist
Beethoven, an important figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical music, definitely triumphed over his asthma. Beethoven’s first reported asthma attack was at age 16 and he subsequently had asthma throughout his adult life. In fact, there is talk about whether or not a coughing fit inspired the famous opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. He remains one of the most respected and influential musicians of all time.
Rapper & Actor
Grammy-Award winning rapper and actor Coolio’s knowledge about asthma helps him manage his condition. “I’ve had my asthma under control for the last eight years with no emergency or hospital visits, just regular checkups. I work out, I run around on stage, play basketball, swim, snowboard. I do everything.”
Country music singer Wynonna, who’s had asthma since she was 12-years-old, advises people not to rely solely on inhalers and says it’s important to follow the treatment plans laid out by doctors. She says, “I try to help other people understand that ending up in the hospital because of an asthma attack is not necessary anymore. There are drugs available, which can be taken on a daily basis, that allow you to move and groove to life.”
Acclaimed performer who won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Cabaret, began her professional career at age 17 when she performed Off-Broadway. By the time she was 19-years-old, she won a Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway show, Flora the Red Menace. Her career proves that asthma did not stop this legendary high energy singer, dancer and actress from becoming one of the most recognized and beloved performers.
42nd President of the United States
An avid runner and passionate about playing the saxophone, former President Clinton never appeared to let his asthma prevent him from partaking in key political or leisure activities.
John F. Kennedy
35th President of the United States
Although he suffered from many illnesses and chronic conditions, including asthma, President Kennedy always appeared strong and rugged and enjoyed working out and playing sports with his family.
26th President of the United States
As a child, President Roosevelt managed his asthma by exercising. Once an adult, he continued exerting himself physically by ranching in the Badlands, driving cattle, hunting big game, exploring and even serving as lieutenant colonel in the Rough Rider Regiment during the Spanish-American War.