Heat icon Mourning reveals his prostate cancer story, urges others to get checked

Former Miami Heat center and current Heat executive Alonzo Mourning is encouraging men to get screened for prostate cancer after a routine exam recently revealed he had the disease.

Mourning, 54, told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that he underwent surgery in mid-March to remove his prostate following a diagnosis of Stage 3 prostate cancer. He is now cancer free.

“What scares me about this disease is that there are so many men walking around feeling great and have that cancer in them and they don’t know it,” Mourning said to ESPN as part of a story released Monday. “The only way to find out is to get their blood tested and get their PSA checked. There are 3.3 million men living in the U.S. with prostate cancer, and many don’t even know it. I was one of those guys.”

After a visit to his urologist in late 2022 revealed that Mourning’s PSA scores were rising, the doctor called for an MRI screening on his prostate. A rise in PSA (prostate-specific antigen) scores can be a sign of prostate cancer.

The MRI results then led to a biopsy in February, which produced the diagnosis of a high grade of prostate cancer.

“I was in shock,” Mourning said to ESPN. “I can’t tell you enough about how well my body felt. I was in top-notch shape — running sprints, strong. The doctor told me that he couldn’t believe I had had a kidney transplant.

“My partner, Mariona, is waiting for me outside the PET scan, and we are nervous as hell. I’m sitting in the machine with my arms over my head and my mind racing — waiting for the technician to read the scan. We ended up in a cold waiting room waiting for the tech to come in and finally he looks at us and says he’s got good news: The cancer is still in the [prostate] capsule and hasn’t spread.”

Mourning’s surgery in March resulted in the removal of the cancer before it could spread outside of the capsule. He traveled with the team to Philadelphia and Boston for postseason games this season.

According to the American Cancer Society, other than skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the United States. The average age of men when they are first diagnosed is about 67.

About one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime and about one in 44 men will die of prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

“Life was good and amazing for me, but I had ignored getting checked and let this go, the cancer would’ve spread through my body,” Mourning said to ESPN. “Unfortunately, as men, we don’t like to go to the doctor, but this is the only way to find out what’s going on in your body. Prostate and even colon cancer are silent killers and many men won’t get those diagnosis until it’s too late.”

Mourning dealt with another serious health issue 24 years ago when his NBA playing career was put on hold after being diagnosed with kidney disease in 2000. He underwent a successful kidney transplant in 2003.

Mourning, who was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014, played 15 seasons in the NBA. He spent 11 of those seasons with the Heat and is still the franchise’s all-time leader in blocked shots (1,625), while also ranking among the Heat’s all-time leaders in points (second), games played (third), minutes played (third), made field goals (third) and rebounds (second).

Mourning is also the only Heat player to be named Defensive Player of the Year in franchise history, receiving the honor in back-to-back seasons for the 1998-99 and 1999-00 campaigns. He won a championship with the Heat toward the end of his playing career in 2006 while playing as the backup center behind starter Shaquille O’Neal.

Mourning, who is one of six Heat players to have his jersey retired by the franchise, has remained with the Heat in an executive role as the vice president of player programs since his playing career came to an end in 2008.