In a heavy essay, former NBA star Ben Gordon has opened up about his struggles with mental health after he left the league. Writing for the Players' Tribune, Gordon revealed that he had suicidal thoughts when his career in NBA came to an end.
"There was a point in time when I thought about killing myself every single day for about six weeks," he opened the essay. "I would be up on the roof of my apartment building at four o’ clock in the morning, just pacing to the edge of the ledge, looking over—pacing back and forth, back and forth—just thinking, I’m really about to do it, B. I’m about to escape from all this shit."
He admitted that during this time he was a "manic-depressive," saying he lost his career, identity, and family "pretty much simultaneously." As a result, he suffered from sleepless nights, and he would frequently skip eating. "I was obsessed with killing myself. It’s all I researched, all I thought about. One night my panic attacks got so bad that all I could think about was escape. Man, I’m telling you….. you become like an animal. It’s instinctive."
After a series of arrests between June and November 2017, he sought help and was diagnosed as bipolar. At first he didn't think therapy would help him, but eventually he was seeing the benefits. "It helped me work some things out. But more than anything, I think it helped me embrace the fact that—it’s like, Yo, B, you’re different. And that’s alright. You don’t have to be perfect. Those habits that got you to the league? They don’t translate to real life," he added.
He concluded the essay by expressing his desire to help others by telling his story. "If you're fucking with this story, don't do what I did. Get some help," he wrote. "Because you're not crazy, dog. You're not damaged. You're just human like the rest of us." Throughout his time in the NBA, he played for the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Bobcats, and Orlando Magic. In 2017, the same year he stopped playing in the league, he was hospitalized for a psychiatric evaluation.
Read his full essay here.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, please notify someone at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.