There’s an important distinction to note regarding Willie Cauley-Stein’s blood disorder.
It’s sickle cell trait, not sickle cell anemia.
According to the American Society of Hematology website, sickle cell trait is an inherited blood disorder that affects about eight percent of African-Americans. Unlike sickle cell disease (or anemia), a serious illness in which patients have two genes that cause the production of abnormal hemoglobin, individuals with sickle cell trait carry only one defective gene and typically live normal lives.
Most people with sickle cell trait have no symptoms and will not have any health complications, the website said. They can participate in athletics. Maintaining good hydration is important.
Coaches should consider someone with sickle cell trait like any athlete at risk for heat exhaustion, the website said.
Mike Grove, who coached Cauley-Stein at Northwest High School in Olathe, Kan., said he was unaware of the 7-footer having the sickle cell trait. So .it was not an issue.
Cauley-Stein noted the sickle cell trait in explaining why he played only 25 minutes against Boise State on Tuesday. He said he occasionally needs extra rest to deal with symptoms like chest pain and a rapid heart rate. Tuesday night happened to be one of those occasions.