When 20-year-old singer Billie Eilish opened up to David Letterman last month about how Tourette’s syndrome is affecting her life, she likely introduced the condition to a generation of her youngest fans.
But Eilish is hardly the first recognizable name to suffer from this neurological disorder, which can cause sudden uncontrollable movements and/or vocal tics. Since the disease was first identified more than a century ago, some historians have retrospectively ruled that musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart suffered from Tourette syndrome.
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The disorder was first named by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot after his intern Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who published an 1885 report of nine patients with “convulsive tic disorder.”
Since then, people from all walks of life – including some of the most successful athletes and entertainers of our time – have been diagnosed with the disorder or a related disorder such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and have experienced varying degrees of symptoms.
Here are just a few celebrities you might recognize:
The retired British soccer star, current co-owner of Major League Soccer franchise Inter Miami CF and husband of Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, has spoken out in TV interviews about being diagnosed with OCD and is trying to break his cycle of repetitive behaviors but just can’t.
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The actor opened up last year about how using marijuana has helped him cope with both Tourette’s Syndrome and ADHD. In a well-publicized tweet (which also included the F-bomb), he described his case as “mild” and said it showed up in “convulsions.”
In the heyday of his football career, Tim Howard was one of the best goalies in the world – and a mainstay of the US men’s national team. He was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome in sixth grade.
Akroyd, an original actor on Saturday Night Live’s “Not Ready for Primetime Players,” has said in interviews that he was diagnosed when he was 12 and that his symptoms were “pretty bad” at first – leading to him becoming shy and withdrawn was managed with medication and therapy.
Mahmoud Abdul Rauf
Abdul-Rauf was a star guard at Louisiana State University in the late 1980s (when he was still known as Chris Jackson) and played in the NBA for a decade. His slight physical tics were noticeable at times when he was on the bench – but it never affected his game on the pitch.
The popular comedian and TV host has long been open about his Tourette syndrome and OCD and said he hopes that when he speaks about his lifelong struggles, it could serve as a comfort and/or inspiration to others who have suffered from these conditions.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Eisenreich was a featured first baseman, outfielder, and designated hitter for five Major League Baseball teams (two in the American League, three in the National). He was a career .290 hitter and won a World Series ring with the Florida Marlins in 1997. He also established the Jim Eisenreich Foundation for Children with Tourette Syndrome.
Carrie Ann Inaba
The longtime Dancing with the Stars judge and former co-host of The Talk spoke in 2019 about how while watching a documentary about Tourette’s syndrome on YouTube, she “found out about all these symptoms and I realized became that I might have done it, or probably had…Tourette is growing up.”