Whether an isolated incident or a recurrent attack, the fact is anyone can acquire gouty arthritis or gout. It does not care about money or social status. So if you just want the short answer to the titled question, the answer is YES, there are famous people or celebrities that are have experienced gout.
For me, this is one of many loony questions that come to mind whenever I’m bedridden by an agonizing gout flare up. What else is there to do? I try to lay still because I don’t want another blast from the gouty joint. It’s a strange a psuedo-meditative state. Eventually, the pain subsides, as well as all the odd thoughts and questions.
Now that I am not gout stricken and not killing time in bed, I want to satisfy my curiosity. Here, I list living famous athletes, actors and politicians that either have chronic gout or experienced a gout attack.
[For more details on how gout develops, please read my post, “What is Gout? Arthritis, Uric Acid, Purines and Pain”]
Anthony ‘Spice’ Adams – Gout in His Prime
A former NFL defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears, Anthony Adams played from 2003-2011. After football, he has transitioned to become a television host, actor and comedian. Additionally, he is also a social media sensation and influencer with over 2 million followers on all platforms.
When Adams was 25 years old, his first gout attack was initially deemed a stress fracture by the team medical staff. X-rays showed no fracture. At only 29 years old, he was diagnosed with hyperuricemia. A condition due to high uric acid levels, which causes gout symptoms.
In this video clip, he shares his experience and pain from gout.
Adams weighed over 300 lbs in his playing days. For pro linemen, keeping their strength and weight up is essential. I suspect in doing so, his diet consisted of lots of red meat for protein. Where there is high amounts of protein, there are high amounts of purines, a major factor to increase uric acid levels.
I have to admit, I first learned who he was last year from a hilarious video clip via twitter.
Emmit Smith – Gout Attack Like a Blindside Hit
A Pro Football Hall of Fame running back and 3-time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys, Emmit Smith played for 14 seasons (1990-2004) in the NFL. In 2006, he won first place on the TV show, Dancing With the Stars.
Despite his NFL conditioning and weight training, he experienced his first gout flare up in 2012 when he was 42. Smith describing his first gout incident:
“By the end of the day, it was at an eight or nine (pain level). My walk had completely changed. I couldn’t wear my shoe. I had to take my socks off. It got to the point that it was intolerable.”
“My gout attack was like a defensive linebacker I never saw coming. The pain and diagnosis surprised me.”
In 2013, he became a spokesman for Champions for Gout Awareness. He does not believe the rigors of the NFL is related to his gout.
Smith still eats his favorite foods like smoked ribs and salmon but in moderation to control his uric acid levels. He is taking Uloric as treatment to lower his uric acid.
Kim Jong-un – Modern Version for Disease of Kings
The Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un is basically the dictator of the country.
Since gout carries a negative stigma, the North Korean government can easily withhold reports that suggest he suffers from gout. However, foreign media have pointed out certain occasions and exploits that indicate he has chronic gout.
Since taking office in 2011, news reports claim Kim has gained over 50 lbs and now weighs close to 300 lbs. In 2014, after not being seen in public for nearly six weeks, he reappeared limping with a walking cane.
Some of his favorite foods are said to be cheese, Kobe beef, sushi, as well as pizza topped with pepperoni, salami and prosciutto. He craves expensive liquors and also smokes heavily. Lastly, gout runs in the family.
Doesn’t this sound like the makings of the modern version of the “disease of kings”?! If he doesn’t have gout, he probably has something worse.
If you haven’t seen this hilarious skit from Saturday Night Live:
Paul Manafort – Guilty of Gout Attack from Stress
In October 2018, the former campaign chairman to President Donald Trump was found guilty of financial fraud and two counts of conspiracy involving Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
While in court for sentencing, he was relegated to a wheelchair with his right foot wrapped in bandages. Lawyers tried to leverage that Manafort’s confinement lead to severe gout, in which requires better living conditions while incarcerated. Nonetheless, the judge denied the request unless they can prove the prison cannot properly treat his condition.
Confinement causes gout? Give me a break! Maybe from lack of exercise, stress, poor diet and dehydration. He doesn’t need more space or better conditions. What he really needs is some allopurinol, predisone, dark cherry juice, fruits and vegetables. I’m sure the minimum-security prison he is in can provide these things.
Alonzo Mourning – Gout from Kidney Disease
A Basketball Hall of Fame center and NBA champion (2006) with the Miami Heat, Alonzo Mourning played for 15 seasons.
Due to a rare life-threatening kidney disease, focal glomerular sclerosis, both his kidneys were deteriorating. After a successful kidney transplant in 2003 and one year off, Mourning returned to the NBA to play his final three seasons.
His complex kidney condition can lead to gout attacks. Also, it restricts him from taking anti-inflammatory medication. He continues to lead a healthy lifestyle that includes weight training, yoga and a strict diet. Mourning’s diet consists of no red meat, low sodium, limited fried food, grains and fish. He founded www.mourningfamilyfoundation.org.
Jim Belushi – Gout from Genetics
An actor, comedian and musician, Jim Belushi starred in many TV and movie roles in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
His first gout flare up was after a jog. Because it was mild, Belushi dismissed it as just being sore. After one of his live Blues Brothers shows, he realized it was serious and needed medical treatment. Because of gout in his foot, he was limited to standing in one spot on stage with one shoe.
In his case, high uric acid levels and gout was genetic. His father, aunt and sister were all diagnosed with it.
“My message to guys is, don’t be an idiot like me and suffer through it. The pain humbled me, so I took action.”
Jared Leto – Gout Attack for Movie Role
Jared Leto is an actor and musician who has appeared in many popular movies since 1995 including Fight Club (1999), Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Suicide Squad (2016). He earned an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in the 2013 film Dallas Buyers Club.
For the 2007 indie film, Chapter 27, he deliberately gained over 60 lbs to better portray the character of Mark Chapman, the overweight and deranged man that shot John Lennon.
“I couldn’t walk for long distances; I had a wheelchair because it was so painful,” Leto told Daily News.
Consequently, Leto experienced a full blown gout attack because of the terrible diet he followed for the role. He eventually lost all the extra pounds, and no longer suffers from gout. Now, he considers himself a “chee-gan”. A vegan that cheats on rare occasions.
The reason why I included Jared Leto is to highlight how gaining weight and a poor diet can cause gout. Incidentally, he also proves how a vegan diet can help you lose weight and prevent gout.
Maurice Cheeks – Coached with Gout
Basketball Hall of Fame point guard and NBA champion (1983) with the Philadelphia 76ers, Maurice Cheeks first experienced gout at the age of 46. At that time, he was the head coach of the Portland Trailblazers.
He admits none of the injuries he suffered from basketball comes close to the amount of pain due to gout. Cheeks says he has always kept fit and that he has no family history of gout.
When he was coaching the 76ers, his foot was so swollen from a prolonged gout attack. Cheeks had to coach five games, without a shoe on! That’s about 10 days with a swollen foot. I’d like to find that a clip or picture of that.
David Wells – Gout Attacks Throughout Career
A major league pitcher whose 20 year career (1987-2007) includes two World Series championships with the Toronto Blue Jay (1992) and the New York Yankees (1998).
On May 17, 1998, Wells pitched the 15th perfect game in baseball history.
Known to have a good time and putting down a few beers in doing so, Wells battled gout attacks throughout his professional career. There have been times when he was put on the team’s injury list because of it.
From his 2000 New York Times best seller, Perfect I’m Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches, and Baseballs:
“I just kind of woke up one morning, stepped out of bed, took one stride toward the bathroom and ended up giving a high falsetto scream, like a six-year-girl, flopping to the floor, (and) grabbing my left big toe.”
I believe at one time or another, all gout sufferers have let out a scream or shriek in agony. Mine are usually laced with profanities.
Terry Francona – Gout and Staph Infection
(Added 3/1/21) Terry Francona is beginning his ninth season as the manager of the Cleveland Indians. Around the end of November of 2020, he experienced gout for the first time. He underwent minor surgery in January for a staph infection in his toe. From a February interview:
“About the middle of November, I was getting treated for gout, which I’d never had before,” Francona said. “They kept telling me to be patient, take the medicine, and about the middle of January I was tired of being patient, so I flew back to Cleveland and saw the doctors at the Clinic and I had a staph infection.”
The 61 year old skipper lead the Indians to the World Series in 2016 before going down to the Chicago Cubs in seven games. Francona’s managerial highlight is managing the Boston Red Sox for eight seasons (2004-11) and winning the World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.
The association of gout and to the staph infection is not disclosed. In speculation, minor surgery to remove gout tophi (buildup) is a similar procedure for a staph infection on damaged joints. However, the term staph infection just sounds more mainstream and less geriatric than gouty arthritis.
This list could be longer, but I found the circumstances of these famous personalities illustrated several ways gout can develop. I can empathize and relate to most of their stories, especially the pain aspect. That’s probably the real reason why I wanted to know if there are famous people with gout; to find some solace that the rich and famous go through the same excruciating pain, just like all of us.