Zac Brown Band Bassist John Driskell Hopkins Announces ALS Diagnosis

by Lauren Boisvert

Yesterday, May 20, John Driskell Hopkins and his Zac Brown Band family came together to share an update, where Hopkins revealed that he has ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He and the band posted a video on YouTube discussing the diagnosis and their hopes moving forward.

“I have tough news to share, and my brothers and sister have gathered to support me,” Hopkins began. “Over the past several years, I’ve noticed some balance issues, and some stiffness in my hands. After careful analysis by some of the country’s top neurologists, I have been diagnosed with ALS. Because my symptoms have been slow-progressing from the start, we believe they will continue to be slow progressing going forward. God willing, I plan to be rocking with these amazing people for many years to come.”

Zac Brown then went on to thank everyone for their support during this time. “The technology and research surrounding ALS treatments has been advancing, but we still don’t have a cure. Thanks so much for your prayers and support in helping us cure ALS.”

The band has fully committed to supporting Hopkins and ALS research. Hopkins and his family have also started a foundation for ALS research, awareness, and community, called Hop On a Cure. Those interested in donating to the foundation can text “HOP” to 345-345.

Currently, there has been no news that the Zac Brown Band will suspend their tour, which extends into November. Hopefully, there will be more cool mashups like when the band brought Edwin McCain out on stage. Right now, they’re playing with the Robert Randolph Band, and Cody Johnson will join them at Fenway Park in Boston and Citi Field in Queens.

John Driskell Hopkins of Zac Brown Band Diagnosed With ALS: More About the Disease

ALS is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease after the famous Yankees player who developed Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in 1939. Other notable individuals diagnosed include Stephen Hawking, pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter, creator of “Spongebob Squarepants” Stephen Hillenburg, “Sesame Street” creator Jon Stone, and jazz musician Charles Mingus, among others.

According to the ALS Association, the disease is “neurodegenerative” and affects “nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.” The motor neurons in the spinal cord do not travel to the muscles, which causes them to atrophy. It affects muscle movement, which causes those affected to lose the ability to move, speak, eat, or breathe. The devastating part of ALS is that it does not affect mental functions. Essentially, your body has trapped you.

ALS is a tragic diagnosis; it is always fatal, and the common life expectancy after diagnosis is 3 years. Additionally, about 90% of the time there is no indication in family history that a person will get ALS. Hopefully, research and technology can advance enough in our lifetime to find a cure.