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AD's big return

Ex-USC star Davis to cybercast gastric bypass surgery

Posted: Wednesday March 8, 2006 7:16PM; Updated: Friday March 10, 2006 2:21PM
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Anthony Davis
Weighing just 175 pounds in his playing days at USC, Anthony Davis now packs close to 300 pounds in his 5-foot-9 frame.
Courtesy of the College Football Hall of Fame
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Thirty years ago, Anthony Davis was quite the specimen: 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, a two-time All-America tailback, a standout centerfielder and four-time national champion at USC. Today, in his early 50s, he is "Bobo the Butt": nearly 300 pounds, racked with pain and afflicted with sleep apnea, a condition that may have played a part in NFL great Reggie White's death.

So this Saturday, at 10:30 a.m., Davis (or AD, as he's alternately known) will undergo gastric bypass surgery live on the Internet to show the world that he's serious about his health. And serious about yours, too. "If this can help somebody," he says, "then I don't have a problem showing it."

Cybercast rights for the 90-minute operation belong to Lite and Hope, an informational portal for those in search of research material and solid medical advice on gastric bypass surgery. Davis' procedure will be performed at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., by Dr. Alan Wittgrove, a trailblazer in bariatric medicine with more than 5,000 successful surgeries to his credit. Play-by-play duties fall to fading pop icon Carnie Wilson, who six years ago Webcasted her gastric bypass procedure, which, by creating a smaller stomach and rearranging the small intestine, forces the body to eliminate excess weight over time.

Wilson credits the surgery with helping her shed more than 125 pounds from her 5-4 frame. Davis' surgery, like hers, will be performed laparoscopically -- by making a series of small incisions along the abdomen (en lieu of carving the patient open) -- to reach the organs in play. But Davis insists he isn't out for publicity. "I'm doing this because it's the best way for me to get myself healthy," he says.

It doesn't hurt that he'll be saving the College Football Hall of Fame the trouble and expense of commissioning a bigger bust. Davis, who led the Trojans to a national title in '72 and a co-title in '74, made the Hall's 2006 enshrinee list last December. His lasting legacy, though, might be as the greatest USC runner to not win the Heisman -- he was runner-up to Ohio State's Archie Griffin in 1974. The slight seems a much sorer subject with Davis' fans than the man himself -- and open for debate anytime the Trojan great is milling around the Los Angeles area. "I was having breakfast one day when a guy walked up and introduced himself and said, 'You won the 1974 Heisman,'" Davis recalls. "I said, 'No, I didn't.' And he argued with me!"