ALBANY, N.Y. — Former New York Knicks guard Luther "Ticky" Burden has a rare heart disease and is being treated at a Manhattan hospital.
The 61-year-old Burden has ATTR amyloidosis, a disease that causes the body's immune system to produce abnormal forms of antibodies.
"He's been ravaged," Dr. Mathew Maurer, who's treating Burden at New York Presbyterian Hospital, said Friday.
A fundraiser is scheduled for July 25 at Albany High School in Burden's hometown of Albany.
"We're trying to raise funds for his medical costs," said organizer Warren Mackey, a longtime friend. "He's flying back and forth every three weeks for treatment."
Burden has helped teach basketball at a YMCA near his home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he's lived for two decades. Being wheelchair-bound now limits his interaction with the youth players.
"The young kids have kept me inspired," said Burden, who remains cheerful and hopes his ordeal leads to more awareness of the disease. "I'm in constant pain. I might get a little pain-free for a couple of hours. I have four real good days (after a treatment) and then I'm struggling."
Maurer said there is no established treatment in the United States for the disease, which is inherited. He estimated that only about 10,000 people in the world have the same form.
Burden has 10 children, five who were adopted.
"If his kids, god forbid, have it, 20 years from now they may have the same problems," Maurer said.
Burden was a star in his hometown at the former Phillip Schuyler High School, nearly averaging a triple double over four years. He went on to excel in college at Utah before signing with the Virginia Squires of the ABA in 1975. He joined the Knicks the following year when the league merged with the NBA and was a reserve for two seasons before retiring.
Burden was later linked to a bank robbery on Long Island and served two years in prison.