I have always been an introvert. Always more comfortable in the background as opposed to leading the conversation. But in the weeks, months and years after my father passed away, I slowly crept further into the shadows. I closed off any and all conversations about my personal life.
Looking back I couldn’t tell you if it was because I wanted to suppress the pain, or if I just didn’t want to get close with anyone for the fear of losing a person so meaningful again.
Whatever the reason behind it, the fact is that unless I was talking sports I rarely went deep into conversation with anyone. Willingly communicating feelings, emotions and substantial topics was just something I avoided, even with the people closest to me.
But I wasn’t aware I was actually doing these things until I came across this Kevin Love quote.
“I have been protective about anything and everything in my inner life. I was comfortable talking about basketball — but that came natural. It was much harder to share personal stuff, and looking back now I know I could have really benefited from having someone to talk to over the years. But I didn’t share — not to my family, not to my best friends, not in public.”- Kevin Love
I remember sitting in my room and coming across these words by Love and realizing damn he just described me and my situation, one I have been blind to the whole time.
All too often people have this narrative that athletes are spoiled millionaires who don’t have the right to have problems. And it is complete bullshit. They are people before athletes. When they walk off that court or field, they have a life like the rest of us. Everyone is going through something.
Love being vulnerable and open up for the world to see was inspiring to me. Here I am, suppressing every emotion I have fearing to show vulnerability meanwhile a NBA superstar is taking the stand and opening up for the whole world to see. I was like wow here is an NBA all star and champion, competing at the highest level yet we relate.
Since coming across the quote, I have made a conscious effort to no longer suppress my emotions and thoughts. I now see the importance of confiding in someone and it helps.
But I have not been the only person Kevin Love has impacted since opening up about his battle with anxiety and panic attacks.
Sunday night on the ESPYS, Kevin Love accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, for his work to de-stigmatize mental health issues. ESPN aired a video of Love’s own battles, and a kid who he helped fight through his own fight.
"Kevin Love is my hero."@kevinlove is this year's Arthur Ashe Courage Award recipient for his fight to end the stigma surrounding mental health and wellness. pic.twitter.com/nhTi7supTR
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 22, 2020
Accepting the award, Love said, “Humbled does not even begin to describe the feeling. … I accept this award as both an honor and a challenge. A challenge to not only continue on my path, but to push beyond it, and to stay vocal, even when silence feels safer.”
When Love first learned he won the award, he gave this message to ESPN.
“It is an absolute honor to receive this award and I am incredibly humbled by it,” Love said. “In telling my story, if I can help just one child that is suffering to make sense of what they are experiencing, I know my efforts have been worth it. And I hope one day we are able to erase the stigma around mental illness, starting with public conversations around mental health and encouraging people to seek help when they need it, followed by research, action, and change.”
With or without the recognition of wining the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, Kevin Love was more than leaving an imprint on society and the stigma of mental health.
Thank You Kevin Love