Ray Negron's Playball Weekly Blog

Byron Janis – I have arthritis but arthritis doesn’t have me

Today I spent the day watching the Yankees play the Toronto Blue Jays on the Yes Network.

Since I was leaving the next day for Tampa for spring training I really needed to have my daughter bring my grandson, Prince Rowen over. I was just looking at his hands with amazement because they were so unusually big and strong. Someone said that he probably would be able to someday play the piano.

At that moment I started to think about my dear friend Byron Janis, arguably the world’s greatest classical pianist.

A man with an incredible talent who has entertained royalties of all types the world over.

You’re talking about kings and queens, Presidents, etc.

The thing that has amazed me is the fact that in 1973 Byron discovered that he had arthritis.

When you are known as maybe the greatest in the world at your craft and you truly depend on your hands and all of a sudden the doctors tell you that you have arthritis has to mentally physically and spiritually be one of the worst feelings in the world!

However, the incredible love for playing the piano and creating music was bigger than the incredible pain that this musical genius has had to endure.

He told me that some days just before he took the stage, the pain would be excruciating however in the words of the great Caruso… The show must go on!

Byron would never tell anyone about this terrible agony with the exception of his wife Maria and maybe one or two others.

The world would not know about this horrible situation until President Regan and his wife Nancy finally announced it sometime in the 80s. The reason for the announcement was because since so many people were suffering from this terrible disease the President and Byron thought that it would help people feel that they had hope. Byron even got involved and supported the Arthritis Foundation.

When thousands of people who were suffering from arthritis found out about Byron it gave them hope and encouragement in fighting this disease.

Byron Janis has been a hero to millions for so many reasons and has helped with countless world issues through his music.

His own battle with arthritis and how he has used his individual suffering to help others is a testament to why this man continues to be a hero!

Many years ago before I knew Byron Janis the man, I heard him say… I have Arthritis… Arthritis doesn’t have me! Bravo Maestro!

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