Chris Kamara: My voice is my life so speech disorder diagnosis was hard to take

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Chris Kamara said his voice is his life so it was “difficult” to accept his diagnosis of apraxia and talk about it openly.

The TV presenter and former footballer revealed earlier this year that he is suffering from the speech disorder alongside an existing thyroid issue.

The 64-year-old told ITV’s This Morning on Tuesday that he knew “something wasn’t right” in 2019 but told “no-one” and decided to speak in “sound bites” to mask his condition.

He said: “I thought ‘I’m going to wake up one day and it’s all gone’.”

Speaking about his apraxia, he added: “We take for granted when we speak, it’s natural, but the message from (my) brain somehow gets confused and the words come out wrong, or they come out slow, or they don’t come out at all.

“My voice was my life so that was hard…to accept. That’s why I kept it quiet, I thought there’s no way I can tell anybody.”

Kamara, also known as Kammy, initially sparked concern in March after appearing to slur his words during an appearance on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday.

He said: “I continued doing programmes and, all of a sudden, people are tweeting me or asking my friends ‘Is he OK? Is something wrong with him? Is he drunk? He’s slurring his words, he sounds slow’.

“That’s eventually where my good mate here (presenter Ben Shephard) got me to spill the beans on (Good Morning Britain).”

He will explore his diagnosis in the documentary, Chris Kamara: Lost For Words, which will follow the Ninja Warrior host, who has been open about his struggle to accept his diagnosis, as he seeks advice from experts and meets others suffering from apraxia of speech.

Viewers will also be given an insight into the disciplined way Kamara manages his ongoing speech therapy.

The Shooting Star Ball – London
Ben Shephard is a friend of Chris Kamara and worked with him on the Lost For Words documentary (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Shephard, who is a friend of Kamara and worked with him on the documentary, said the presenter does have the funds to seek treatment.

“Fortunately, Kammy is in a position where he can do these things as well, and the problem is that not everyone that’s going through this has that opportunity, because they can’t afford it or they don’t get offered the chance to go and try it,” he said.

“That’s the most important thing for me – and we’ve talked about this a lot – for Kammy, right now, the most important part of what he’s doing is trying to help people out there that don’t have a voice, that potentially could benefit from (the show).”

– Chris Kamara: Lost For Words airs on ITV1 and ITVX on Wednesday at 9pm.

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