(KTVI) - His discovery of a mind-altering brain disease is changing the way America looks at football. It’s also making forensic pathologist/neuropathologist, Dr. Bennet Omalu famous, with Will Smith playing him in the movie, "Concussion".
In a special Fox Files report, Andy Banker sits down Dr. Omalu, who has now been honored in Missouri.
The man behind the movie is not driven by fame or by taking down football.
Westminster College has awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree for something much deeper.
70-years after the great Winston Churchill stood at the same place, Westminster College in Fulton, MO, and warned the world of the Soviet “Iron Curtain”, it was Omalu’s turn.
He was far from where his life started as a refugee in war torn Nigeria where he dreamed of America, though being portrayed in an American movie was hardly imaginable.
“Will Smith did a phenomenal job,” Omalu said.
The movie is just part of his story; same goes for his educational and professional accomplishments.
Everything goes back to his to his humble upbringing in a devout Catholic family, he said.
“Be yourself,” he told a packed house in the college auditorium in September. “In being myself, I recognized that we all are members of one another.”
He told the crowd faith and science were companions in what we all seek: truth.
“You may deny it, you may distort it, you may do whatever you want with the truth, but rest assured, the truth will prevail,” Omalu told Fox 2.
Everything came together in his autopsy of NFL Hall of Famer, Mike Webster, in 2002, he said.
As in the movie, he really does speak to the deceased. As his wife`s photos confirm, he really has taken brains home from the morgue for further study, pursuing truth wherever, whenever possible.
“[My wife] was taking the pictures to document that she had married a very weird man,” he told the crowd, drawing big laughs.
That weird man has discovered CTE, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy: a buildup of protein in the brain brought on, Omalu said, by repeated head trauma, not just concussions, common in contact sports. It can cause people to lose their minds and become someone unrecognizable to those who love them, he said. The greatest risk is for players under the age of 18 whose brains are still developing, he said. That goes for all high contact sports including hockey and wrestling.
“Like Will Smith said in the movie …’God did not intend for us to play football’,” he said.
That boy who dreamed of America has caused it to re-examine what it holds true.