Last Saturday night, Milwaukee Bucks forward Larry Sanders, 26, walked away from basketball after five years in the league for what were reported as "personal reasons."
But yesterday, we found out exactly what some of those "personal reasons" were: depression, anxiety, and a mood disorder. In a blog post and video published on the Players' Tribune, Sanders opened up about his decision, stating that it had to do, in part, with his mental health.
Sanders has received much criticism from the public because he had three years remaining on a $44 million contract, leaving around $21 million on the table in the buyout. But as anyone who suffers from a mental illness knows, that's not how it works. You can't just force yourself to suck it up — not for any amount of money. His focus was finding happiness — and he knew he couldn't find it in basketball.
In the video, he explains:
I think this is seen to be a desirable, lucrative job or position. People say, "How could you be unhappy there? How could that be a place you don't want to be?" The values and the relationships of the people I love around me are my real riches. That's my lasting wealth.
Sanders, who hasn't played since late December, said that for some of the time he had "disappeared" from the public eye, he'd been receiving treatment for anxiety, depression, and a mood disorder.
As someone who self-identifies as "a person, a father, an artist, a writer, a painter, a musician," who "sometimes play[s] basketball," he clearly has interests outside of basketball that he wants to pursue. He doesn't want the game to continue to define him.
But he still loves basketball and is appreciative of everything the NBA has done for him. He's not ruling out ever playing again, he said, if he can get to a better mental place.
Whatever Sanders ends up doing, we hope that his brave decision to open up to the public about his struggles will make it easier for other people going through something similar to seek out the help they need.
Watch the full video below:
(h/t New York Magazine)
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