Rocky Carroll’s Lessons in Caring

Rocky has helped care for his 86-year-old mother ever since her type 2 diabetes led to a heart attack. 

Linda Childers
More Sharing +

A little loving support can go a long way—that’s something NCIS star Rocky Carroll knows all too well. He’s been his 86-year-old mother Ruby’s “rock” ever since her type 2 diabetes led to a heart attack three years ago.

He plays hard-boiled investigator Leon Vance on CBS’s NCIS and NCIS-Los Angeles, but don’t let that fool you. Beneath Rocky Carroll’s stoic persona is a softie with an instinct for helping others heal. And these days, mom Ruby is the biggest beneficiary.

Making a decision
In Christmas 2008, while visiting Rocky and his family—which includes wife, Gabrielle, and daughter, Elissa—in L.A., Ruby suffered a serious heart attack. For decades, she’d been coping with type 2 diabetes, and now it had come to this. Right then and there, Rocky made a decision: There was no way Mom was going back to Ohio.

“Up until that moment, my mom had been living alone [since my father died],” Rocky says. “But that 10-day visit turned into a permanent relocation. Now she lives seven minutes away from our home, and this allows us to help her out and to see her more often.”

Granted, it took some convincing to get her to make L.A. her new home. Today, three years later, there’s no doubt she’s happier—and healthier—for it. Multiple studies have proven that people with diabetes are able to enjoy more stable blood sugar levels when they have the support of family and friends. In fact, the strength of the support network is an important factor in how well a person with diabetes will take care of himself or herself, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. On the flip side, a study in Diabetes Care showed that people with diabetes who lack a network of love and support have poorer blood sugar control.

Luckily for Ruby, Rocky is totally devoted—and doesn’t hide it. His blog is peppered with references to his mom:

“My mother’s doing pretty good.”

“Spent a very nice Easter weekend with my mother.”

“Between taking care of my mother (she’s doing okay, for those of you who remember) and working on both NCIS shows, I’ve had very little time to do much else.”

“Thank you for all of your well wishes for my mother. I told her there’s a wonderful community of folks that I chat with via the Internet who are pulling for her.”

Of course, no one is pulling harder for Ruby than Rocky, Gabrielle and Elissa. Here, Rocky shares some TLC tips for motivating someone you love to take better care of her diabetes:

April 2013