Former Fayetteville coach 'tries to enjoy every day' after ALS diagnosis
Posted January 27
Updated January 28
Fayetteville, N.C. — A former well-known basketball coach who has faced some rough battles on the court is in a fight for his life.
Jeff Capel Jr. has held several coaching jobs from high school to the NBA, but last spring he was diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
His son, Jeff Capel III, associate head men’s basketball coach at Duke University, made the diagnosis public in a post he wrote for The Player’s Tribune.
“It’s been hard on them and my wife. She takes care of me,” said Jeff Capel Jr.
Jeff Capel Jr. was diagnosed in March and said by June he felt the impact of the disease in his muscles. By November, he began slurring his words.
“I thought I had cancer of the throat. I wish I did have that because you can cure it,” he said.
Basketball is in the Capel family’s blood. Jeff Capel Jr. coached at Old Dominion and at Fayetteville State University, where a gym bears his father’s name. Jeff Capel Jr.'s son, Jeff Capel III played for Duke, and his other son, Jason, starred at Carolina.
Jeff Capel III is currently filling in as the Blue Devils’ head coach while Mike Krzyzewski recovers from back surgery.
Now, the elder Capel’s focus is on the future.
“I try to enjoy every day. I try to keep by attitude up,” he said. “I would just like support for people who have this in the future so we can find something that can cure the disease.”
Jeff Capel Jr. said that before his son wrote the post for The Player's Tribune, only his family members knew about the diagnosis. Since the article was published, he said he has received more than 200 text messages of well wishes from players he's coached through the years.