Charlie Villanueva is used to people staring at him. Not just because he is a seven-year NBA veteran who had a decorated college and high school basketball career, but because he suffers from alopecia universalis.
Alopecia Universalis results in total hair loss throughout the entire body. Villanueva was diagnosed when he was 10 years old. By the time he was 12, he had no hair at all. He used to wear a baseball cap in class because he was embarrassed by his condition. But over time, he used his condition as inspiration to work harder both in the classroom and in the gym.
"All those kids who made fun of me, I thank them now," he says, smiling. "They helped make me who I am," Villanueva has said in interviews.
Best of all, Charlie has made helping others with a condition a huge focus in his life. For over 7 years Charlie has worked with the National Alopecia Arreta Foundation (NAAF) and frequently helps encourage young children who suffer from Alopecia Universalis. He invites many kids to his games and visits with them afterwards as part of his "Charlie's Angels" Program.
As Villanueva has put it, "I want these kids to know that just because you have alopecia, alopecia doesn't have you. If you let it have you, it's going to tear you down."