Athletes and Mental Illness: Delonte West

Athletes and Mental Illness: Delonte West

Mental health is a touchy subject, sometimes. It’s often hard to accept a negative diagnosis but I imagine it’s even harder when you are a professional athlete, living in the spot light. We’ve unfortunately seen some great athletes fall from grace and succumb to their illnesses.

Delonte West, former NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Seattle SuperSonics, was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder early in his career. Despite the official diagnosis and years of self destructive behavior, West felt it was blown out of proportion. He decided not to take any medication. Throughout his career, questionable choices were made that ultimately led to the Mavericks waiving him and eventually bringing him back on the D-League which he was also waived from.

One year later, West was seen in the Houston area appearing to be homeless. This week, four years after the picture, a viral video has surfaced of West being beaten in the middle of the street and another of him incoherently arguing with cops about what happened. This portrayal of West has shown exactly how far an untreated mental illness can drag you down.

It’s easy for people to not care. He made millions. He was a NBA player. He had every chance in the world, right? I have to disagree. Bipolar Disorder is no walk in the park. It’s questioning your every mood. Is it how you really feel, or is it your disorder? It’s making rash decisions without thinking. It’s risk taking. It’s unbearable depression. Mental Illnesses affect millions of people world wide and unfortunately for West, he’s one of them.

West is not the first and certainly not the last athlete to suffer from a disorder. We’ve all sat back and laughed at the latest, some how crazier than the last headline about Antonio Brown’s antics. He is currently dealing with an active situation at his house where TMZ has reported that someone has been injured. Although, there has been no information about a diagnosis, it’s clear that something isn’t right with AB. Jerry West, a Hall of Famer, struggled with depression throughout his career. Wide Receiver, Brandon Marshall was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Athletes are not immune to suffering.

My hope is that friends and teammates reach out to Delonte West and offer help or guidance in this time. LeBron James, a former teammate who once found himself in a controversy with West, was said to be heartbroken when he saw the viral video and is vowing to help anyway he can. Above all, the greatest gift we can give those who suffer from these disorders is emotional support and by spreading awareness.

Featured Image Credit: Daniel Shirey/ USA TODAY Sports

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