Clay Walker worked his fingers to the bone strumming his guitar strings and spent countless nights singing his heart out in Texas dive bars before he made it in Country Music. However, every bit of sheer will, determination, and grit to make it in Country music wasn’t the hardest test he would face. In the most recent episode of Outsider’s The Road You Leave Behind with Marty Smith, the “Need a Bar Sometimes” singer opens up about his battle with multiple sclerosis (MS) and the moments along the way that tested his faith.
Imagine finally accomplishing your lifelong goal to make it in the music industry. You’ve worked tirelessly performing in rowdy, beer-stained Texas bars since high school when you were still too young to even order a proper drink. You’re riding high off the success of multiple No. 1 singles on the Billboard country charts. Your album sales are superb and you’re selling out live shows across the country. All of a sudden, in the blink of an eye, it all feels like it’s about to come crashing down around you because of what you think is a medical death sentence.
For many receiving an MS diagnosis, their outlook on life could become skewed. That’s not who Walker is as a man, but even he became discouraged from his initial symptoms. At just 26 years old, Walker began having major complications. In fact, he originally thought he had a tumor pressing against his brain. Walker couldn’t see straight and had double vision. Additionally, he couldn’t touch his fingers together, was dragging his leg, and had a constant twitch in his face.
Walker says his initial prognosis is what stunned him. The singer had so many lesions on his brain and spinal cord that doctors informed him that he’d likely be in a wheelchair within a couple of years. Even worse, doctors expected him to pass away not long after. Walker is honest about his spirits at the time. He was “devastated,” and how could he not be?
“Taking that, and swallowing that at 26 years old … my career was absolutely exploding. I mean it had just started … I was devastated, I was completely devastated,” Walker recalls.
Clay Walker’s MS Prognosis Couldn’t Have Been More Wrong
Walker remembers going into his music room where he used to write songs. The country singer broke down thinking about his prognosis. Before he knew it, he was face down on the floor weeping and praying. He had a true heart-to-heart with his maker, and says he heard God speak to him.
Clay Walker stood up and says he never cried again about his disease. The “Live Until I Die” singer says he made peace with the possibility of death, but felt that God had a purpose for him. The progressive state of MS meant that in the near future, Walker should’ve been dead. Yet as Walker explains it, the disease arrested and stopped progressing.
Over a period of years, you could see the debility and the way it affected him. Walker originally had about six or seven attacks that left him with weakness in his legs and arms. However, to the shock of even his own doctors and other medical professionals, his disease went into remission. He’s now been living with the disease for 25 years without any further complications.
‘A Story For People Who Believe’
According to Walker, every doctor that has studied his case has said they’ve never seen anything like it. The country artist believes in science and has talked before about how much progress the medical community has made when it comes to MS. Especially compared to the 90s when he received his prognosis. For years he continued to schedule annual MRI scans, which he called “brutal.” However, he eventually decided he was done with them.
“I remember one year, I came out of the MRI machine and looked at my doctor and said, ‘I’m done with this.’ He said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘God has already told me this ain’t going to take me, and I believe it. So I’m not getting back in this damn machine,” Walker said with a laugh.
Many years down the road and Walker is still thriving. He’s still making the music he loves. In August, Walker released his newest single “Need a Bar Sometimes” – a classic country drinking song. Furthermore, he continues to stay heavily involved with his non-profit charity called Band Against MS. The country star continues to face obstacles in his life, but with his faith and perseverance on his side, Walker’s path never falters.
“[It’s] been a journey, and a good one in my life. Adversity can build strength in you. It can also show you where you come from. This is a story for people who believe,” Walker says earnestly.