"I chose not to take that route, but certainly some players have."
ESPN's Jackie MacMullan's ongoing series examining various NBA players' personal experiences with mental health struggles continued today with a discussion with San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan. Last season, DeRozan was one of several NBA players who spoke out about his battle with depression and anxiety, and he is one of the reasons why the NBA and NBPA have launched a mental health and wellness program.
During his chat with Jackie MacMullan, DeRozan discussed how he has witnessed other players around the league develop unhealthy habits while trying to cope with mental health issues.
"I watched people suppress their pain with alcohol, which turned them into completely different people - aggressive, emotional, self-destructive. I chose not to take that route, but certainly some players have. [My depression] forced me to a place where I was confined, quiet, isolated. And over time, that wasn't really healthy either. Those feelings build up."
In an interview with Doug Smith of the Toronto Star back in February, DeRozan detailed his personal experiences and how mental health issues can affect anyone regardless of their social or economic status.
“I always have various nights,” DeRozan said. “I’ve always been like that since I was young, but I think that’s where my demeanor comes from.
“I’m so quiet, if you don’t know me. I stay standoffish in a sense, in my own personal space, to be able to cope with whatever it is you’ve got to cope with.”
"It's one of them things that no matter how indestructible we look like we are, we're all human at the end of the day," DeRozan told The Star. "We all got feelings ... all of that. Sometimes ... it gets the best of you, where times everything in the whole world's on top of you."
Thus far, Jackie MacMullan has shared stories from several current and former NBA stars including Kevin Love, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, and the Morris twins. The five-part series on ESPN will continue throughout the week.