LA Clippers guard John Wall recently opened up about the mental health battles he has faced over the last two years. Having lost his mother and grandmother around the same time he tore his achilles, the five-time All-Star was in the darkest period of his life. This period also coincided with a global pandemic, which understandably compounded matters for Wall.
While Wall has touched on the topic before, this recent interview revealed the depth of his emotions, and even his battle with suicidal thoughts.
“I thought about committing suicide,” Wall said. “Tearing my achilles, my mom passing, my grandma dying a year later, in the midst of COVID. Me going to chemotherapy, sitting by my mom taking her last breaths wearing the same clothes for three days straight.”
Wall added that he finally connected with a therapist, and has been smiling much more as of late. His message went viral on social media, with fans and players across the league sharing their appreciation or his vulnerability. Mental health in sports is something that has rightfully begun receiving more attention in recent years, and players like John Wall have helped advance the conversation.
One of the first players to show support following John Wall’s message was Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
Despite now being on opposite ends of the Los Angeles basketball rivalry, Wall and James share a friendship that goes beyond basketball. Sharing the same agency, the two are close off the court, and shared a nice moment on Twitter following Wall’s mental health message.
Another message of support came in from John Wall’s former backcourt mate Bradley Beal. The two players made up one of the best backcourts in basketball for several years with the Washington Wizards, and their tandem will always be special in that city.
To receive that type of public support from someone Wall shared so many battles with had to be special, and the point guard shared a response on Twitter as well. While it may seem inconsequential, these responses to Wall’s message are incredibly important to breaking down the stigma that surrounds mental health, especially amongst top athletes.
Shortly after Wall’s interview hit Twitter, Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris shared a message of support that urged Wall to continue inspiring others.
In December of 2021, Harris spoke with Complex about mental health, specifically in sports.
“You’re taught as kids, be tough, don’t be crying,” Harris said. “We’re supposed to be alpha, tough, strong. I think [the stigma] comes more from the outside world. When they look at athletes, [it’s] like [they’re] superheroes. Then you add the money component to it [and it’s], Well, if you guys are making so much money, nothing can be wrong. That’s far from the truth.”
Much of the message from Tobias Harris was focused on breaking down the connection between money and happiness. While professional athletes are often seen as immune to mental health battles because of their fame and popularity, their lucrative contracts are also often cited as reasons they should be happy. What Harris, Wall, and others across the league are illuminating, is that these issues do not discriminate.
With more players like John Wall coming forward, both professional athletes and every day people can feel less alone when battling these emotions.