Suffering for years in silence, Kevin Love has opened up about his struggles with mental health.
The Cavaliers forward writes in an essay for the Players' Tribune that he had a panic attack during a game this season and he has spent most of his life afraid to accept there was something wrong with him.
"For 29 years, I thought about mental health as someone else's problem," he said.
Love says he was stricken with anxiety Nov. 5 during a home game against the Atlanta Hawks. Love adds that he had been under family stress and hadn't been sleeping well. After briefly being winded while playing 15 minutes in the first half, he felt his heart racing and couldn't catch his breath during a timeout in the third quarter.
Never miss a local story.
Sign up today for unlimited digital access to our website, apps, the digital newspaper and more.
"It's hard to describe, but everything was spinning, like my brain was trying to climb out of my head," said Love, a five-time All-Star now sidelined after breaking his left hand last month.
"The air felt thick and heavy. My mouth was like chalk. I remember our assistant coach yelling something about a defensive set. I nodded, but I didn't hear much of what he said. By that point, I was freaking out."
Love was taken to the Cleveland Clinic, but tests didn't reveal anything abnormal. He returned to playing at a high level, but was puzzled by what happened and burdened about people finding out.
Although he did not mention it in his essay, titled "Everyone Is Going Through Something," Love left a Jan. 20 game against Oklahoma City under similar circumstances. He also missed the team's practice the following day. Those absences prompted the now infamous heated team meeting in which former teammate Isaiah Thomas and others questioned why Love had been excused.
The exchange led to tense days around the Cavs, who rebuilt their roster by trading Thomas and four other players before the deadline.
Love's father, Stan, also played in the NBA. Kevin Love says he always struggled with the stigma attached to an athlete who shows weakness.
"Growing up, you figure out really quickly how a boy is supposed to act," he said. "You learn what it takes to 'be a man.' It's like a playbook: Be strong. Don't talk about your feelings. Get through it on your own. So for 29 years of my life, I followed that playbook."
The Cavs encouraged Love to see a therapist and he gets counseling a few times a month when the team is at home.
Love said he drew courage to go public with his issues after Toronto All-Star DeMar DeRozan's recently acknowledged he has had bouts of depression. After playing against DeRozan for years, Love said he would have never guessed one of the game's best players was having problems similar to his own.
"The reality is that we probably have a lot in common with what our friends and colleagues and neighbors are dealing with," Love wrote. "So I'm not saying everyone should share all their deepest secrets — not everything should be public and it's every person's choice. But creating a better environment for talking about mental health . that's where we need to get to."
Love's revelations promoted praise from teammate LeBron James, who posted on Twitter: "You're even more powerful now than ever before @kevinlove!!! Salute and respect brother!"
Love ended his piece by encouraging anyone dealing with inner struggle to seek help.
"So if you're reading this and you're having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you're not weird or different for sharing what you're going through," he said. "Just the opposite. It could be the most important thing you do. It was for me."
“Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” –Martin Luther King Jr.
There have been three major violent attacks in the United States in the past six weeks. A shooter in Las Vegas killed 58 people and injured 546 others attending a music festival. In another attack, in New York City, a man murdered eight people and injured 12 using a rented truck from Home Depot to plow into them. Last Sunday, a man killed 26 and injured 20 people attending Sunday services at a church in a small town in Texas. As humans sharing the world, it is hard to believe how commonplace violence is, whether in the form of a “lone shooter” or as an “act of terrorism.” Instead of feeling the shock and horror we should, we have almost become numb in reaction to these outrageous and revolting events.
As a 17-year-old, I have never known a time in America where there wasn’t violence. I was just 1 year old when the 9/11 attacks happened. I have lived through many acts of violence, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012. That same year, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African- American from Florida, was fatally shot, ironically, by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Whether it’s a mass attack, mass shooting or the killing of one person, the action is violence and the result is the same—death. And we are left asking ourselves, “Why?” What can we do about it?
As teens, we don’t have to feel powerless. There are things we can do. One thing we can do is to raise awareness about religion and racism. Interfaith programs at our churches, synagogues, mosques and temples can help promote goodwill and understanding through diversity. By seeing that we share faith in a higher power and working together for the greater good, we promote understanding. Programs like Harvard University’s The Pluralism Project runs the Interfaith Youth Leadership Coalition in the St. Paul, Minn., area, where “teens work together to nurture interfaith understanding, reduce prejudice and misunderstanding, and act together on common values through service and justice to transform their worlds. In the process, these young people are empowered to be capable interfaith leaders, both within their own communities and beyond.” This program includes many community-based events like a gardening service as well as leadership workshops for the teens. Having more programs like this one, throughout the United States and the world, will help cultivate more understanding leadership and promote greater understanding among different religions.
Teens can also raise awareness of gun violence. Events such as Seattle, Washington’s “Teens Against Guns Youth Summit,” hosted by the Atlantic Street Center, are a way to bring teens together to actively support the anti-gun movement at a grassroots level. Programs like these can help empower teens to help them realize they can be proactive in ending the cycle of violence.
Another way teens can use their voice to denounce violence and terror is through social media. When she was challenged by another student to prove there were Muslims who condemned violence in the name of Islam, Heraa Hashmi, a 19-year-old college student at the University of Colorado Boulder, decided to make a list of all the Muslim groups that did. According to a November 2016 Teen Vogue article, “ The result was Worldwide Muslims Condemn List — a spreadsheet with 5,720 instances of Muslim groups and leaders denouncing various acts of terrorism.” Her Twitter account generated 12,000 re-tweets and the list has been made into an interactive website called www.muslimscondemn.com. Her idea led to a resource for anyone to access the information.
Whether coming together in an interfaith group, rallying at an anti-gun youth summit or using social media to create awareness against violence, teens have a voice. Gun violence and terror attacks need to end in my generation. Maybe Mr. Rogers (Fred Rogers), said it best: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ” We, as teens, need to be those helpers.