John Driskell Hopkins Reveals ALS Diagnosis: ‘I’m Ready To Fight This Disease’

Photo from John Driskell Hopkins’ Instagram

John Driskell Hopkins Reveals ALS Diagnosis: ‘I’m Ready To Fight This Disease’

By Movieguide® Contributor

John Driskell Hopkins, one of the founding members of the Zac Brown Band, revealed a devastating ALS diagnosis. 

The bass player first noticed something was off while playing on the band’s 2019 tour. 

“It wasn’t that I couldn’t play anymore, it was that I couldn’t play as fast,” Hopkins told People. “My guitar hand was failing me.”

He also noticed his speech was slurred at times, and he had trouble getting around onstage.

“I’m not Justin Timberlake, but I’m a rock and roll guy and can dance pretty well,” the musician said. “Jumping started to bother me.”

Hopkins went to a variety of different doctors and specialists over the next two years, and finally received a diagnosis of ALS, a degenerative disease that causes progressive paralysis in the muscles used for things like walking and speaking. 

“It was devastating,” Hopkins’ wife Jennifer shared. “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.”

ALS is typically rapid, with a progression that takes place over three to four years. However, Dr. Richard Lewis, an ALS specialist, said that some can live 10-15 years after their diagnosis. 

“No one knows what the condition will be like going forward, so we can’t sit around and cry about it,” Hopkins said. 

Despite his diagnosis, the bass player is still playing with the Zac Brown Band. He recently headed out on a seven-month tour with the band. 

“I’m singing as well as I’ve ever sung, and I was never a good player,” Hopkins laughed. “The band will back me up on that. When I told them about my diagnosis on a Zoom call, Zac said, ‘Are you making all this up because you’re a [bad] banjo player?'”

“One of the beautiful things about my condition, if God-willing it remains the way it is for a couple of years, is I have the energy and the presence to make a big impact,” he continued. “I’m ready to go. I can still play, I can still sing, I can still make records — and I want to do all that. I’m trying to record everything I can in the event that one day I might not be able to.

He finished, “I’m ready to fight this disease. I want to show my girls what a warrior their dad is.”


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