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Vitiligo Crusaders | Page 13 | The NFL D-line Coach who doesn’t let Vitiligo hold him back

Currently, the defensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Karl Dunbar has maintained a positive outlook towards having vitiligo and has had a successful career as an NFL player.

Karl Dunbar
Image Courtesy: Buffalo Bills

Those, who love sports, must know Karl Dunbar. The NFL D-line Coach is now 51 and has had a glorious career as a defensive lineman. He takes pleasure in seeing his protégé grow to be men and take care of their families. It was our honor to have him answering a few questions. His replies to our question were short, yet full of wisdom.

Karl was 14 years old when he first noticed a vitiligo patch on his right thumb. Just like any other kid with vitiligo, at first, it was tough for him to deal with the symptoms of the chronic skin condition. To handle bullying, he covered up his patches. Many thought that he had burned himself. He recalls, “It was more difficult for as a child because it was new to me, but as an adult, my self-esteem is more intact because of my journey.”

Since Karl was a bright athlete, a lot of people accepted him and his white patches. “Did it take a long time to get used to living with vitiligo?” we asked him. He answered, “When I look back I would have to say no! I was a good athlete, and my parents were a positive influence in my life. Early in my process, I used to wear long sleeves, gloves, hats, and shades, but since I’ve accepted who I am, it’s totally different now.”

Understandably, Karl is an inspiration for many young men today. We asked him what movies, books, poems, or stories inspired him? He replies, “I really like Rocky and how he overcame to be a champion. The Old Man and the Sea (a novel by Ernest Hemingway) is a book that inspired me.” Since Vitiligo is a lonely journey, it is understood why an aging, experienced fisherman’s story (about battling the sea) inspired Karl.

When we asked for Karl’s views on the representation of people with vitiligo in books, or movies, he responded, “I’ve really never thought about it. But, I would like to see people with vitiligo in commercials and sitcoms.”

Today, Karl feels good about living with vitiligo. People ask him about his vitiligo and he has got no problem talking about it. In fact, he feels that he can help youngsters with their struggles with vitiligo because of his own in the past.

Karl lives in Opelousas and has a loving family that brings out the best in him. We hope his story will inspire many youngsters with vitiligo who are dealing with low self-esteem. Just like Karl, we wish many aspiring athletes with vitiligo to do more and be more.

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