FOXBOROUGH — Some mornings, Clyde Simms still feels the lingering pain from the toe injury that forced the midfielder to miss more than half of the 2013 season with the Revolution.
The Revolution didn’t pick up his contract after last season but Simms wasn’t ready to give up soccer. The San Jose Earthquakes invited him to work out with the team, but one morning early in the preseason, Simms woke up to unbearable pain in the toe.
“I gave it all season to rest, and when I was here in the preseason in San Jose, and a couple of days before I was set to go, I just woke up one morning and it was killing me, it was swollen and I hadn’t done anything the day before,” Simms said.
“That pain alone, I told myself, I couldn’t do another season, let alone another week of it.”
Simms, 31, has suffered from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, the same kidney disease that affected NBA stars Alonzo Mourning and Danny Manning, since he was a freshman in high school, and retired from the professional soccer in February. It was that disease that was causing the toe discomfort.
Simms silently battled his condition throughout his nine-year career. He played his first seven seasons with D.C. United before playing his final two in New England, before his condition worsened.
When he began playing in D.C., his kidney was functioning at 50 percent, before dropping to 20 the last three seasons. After he felt continued pain in his toe in the preseason, he went to see a doctor and discovered his kidney function had dropped to 14 percent.
If his kidney function reaches 10 percent, Simms will need to go on dialysis.
“My toe wasn’t healing because of my kidneys and my toe, thankfully, it was so painful, it was kind of my body’s way of telling me enough,” said Simms, who lives in Dedham.
Simms joined more than 99,000 Americans on the official list for an organ transplant, with a wait time of four years.
Simms kept his condition out of the public eye because he said he chose not to let it bother him, taking a mind-over-matter approach.
Now, he hopes to raise awareness as he awaits further treatment. According to the National Kidney Foundation, 1 in 9 American adults has kidney disease, and most do not know it.
“If it wasn’t for me going to checkups when I was younger, staying on top of it my whole career, this could’ve got worse faster,” Simms said. “There are no symptoms, and high blood pressure and diabetes cause two-thirds of kidney disease. It’s important for people to get checked out.
Simms was at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday to record a public service announcement that will air during Revolution games, and will also participate in a series of kidney walks: one at Camden Yards in Baltimore on May 4, and another in Boston in October.
“I’m sure there will be a ton of people, and hopefully I can be some sort of encouragement,” Simms said. “Being able to have a platform like the Revolution and D.C. United is awesome to raise awareness. I have a ton of support from them and this is a big deal for me to raise awareness.”
Simms has also received tremendous support on social media from the soccer community, and spoke on the phone with former NFL receiver Donald Jones.
Jones, 26, suffered from kidney disease and received a transplant from his father in December. He played for the Buffalo Bills and signed with Patriots before retiring in 2013.
“[Jones] is doing so great,” Simms said. “It was a really good conversation to know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. He feels like a totally different person, and back to himself, and that’s something I’m excited for one day.”
Now Simms is transitioning to life after soccer. He has a passion for indoor cycling and also does yoga, both exercises helping to keep his blood pressure down.
He is also in the process of opening a spin studio at Legacy Place in Dedham, which he said should be ready in the summer.
“It helps keep me fit and active,” Simms said. “And even socially, it’s been great to meet people in this area and share a common interest.”