Gary Forbes: Besting Diabetes on the Basketball Court


Gary Forbes is a 12-year veteran professional basketball player, currently playing for the Saigon Heat in Vietnam, but has also spent time in the NBA as well as other top leagues overseas. As best we can tell, Gary is the last active player with type 1 diabetes to play in the NBA, having played for the Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets.

In this interview, Beyond Type 1 Leadership Council member Rob Howe talks to Gary about what it was like for him getting diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) during his freshman year of college, and how the diagnosis forced him to adjust his lifestyle in order to continue to be the high level player that he is. T1D also runs in Gary’s family, with his father living with the disease and thriving as an Olympic weightlifter for Team Panama.

Gary and Rob discuss how diabetes can affect your reputation as an athlete, as Gary recounts a severe hypoglycemic incident that he attributes as a primary reason his NBA career ended prematurely, and the importance of educating teammates and team staff on the day to day treatment of diabetes.

Ultimately, Gary is optimistic about people with diabetes’ ability to achieve their dreams, and is working on a children’s book series based on his life experiences as a person with diabetes.

Be sure to check out Gary on Instagram @garyforbes_ and be encouraged that if a kid with diabetes has excelled at the highest levels of college and professional basketball, maybe you can too!

Check out the full podcast:

Check out another piece about type 1 in professional sports—Kendall Simmons + His T1D Diagnosis in the NFL.

WRITTEN BY Rob Howe, POSTED 03/10/20, UPDATED 11/19/22

Rob Howe serves as chair of the Leadership Council’s Ambassador Committee. He has been living with type 1 diabetes for 13 years, and is an entrepreneur, marketing strategist, podcaster and former professional basketball player. In 2015, Rob founded Diabetics Doing Things, in an effort to raise awareness around the amazing things that people with type 1 diabetes are doing around the world. As of 2018, Rob’s podcast has been downloaded over 250,000 times, from listeners in over 50 countries. He hopes for a day where children, teens and adults who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) need only go online and search for people with type 1 diabetes who do the thing they love, and feel confident that the dreams for their life are still valid. Rob lives in Dallas Texas with his girlfriend Erica and their cat and dogs, Michael J. Fox, Rowan & Enzo.