Kevin Love's Journey With Mental Health

Perhaps being a five-time NBA All-Star, an NBA Champion, and a UCLA alumnus seem like good enough reasons for me to be a fan of Kevin Love. Yet, it was an article that I read back in March of this year that brought Love back onto my radar and turned me into a much more dedicated fan.

Kevin Love became a featured writer on The Players’ Tribune as he utilized the platform to speak the truth on his struggle with his mental health. Now perhaps I am biased because he went to UCLA, but he writes very well. However, beyond his writing, the points that he hits are just so relevant and relatable despite his seemingly very unique profession and lifestyle.

He admits to falling victim to the idealizations that society has of how men should be and feeling the need to “be a man” by not opening up about his own feelings. He reflects on how he once viewed mental health as a problem for other people, not one that he could afford to have affecting his career. Then, he opens up about his first experience with a major panic attack during an NBA game. Considering the way he recalls the experience, it is clear that is one that he will not forget.

However, Love does not just end his honesty with his experience up to his panic attack. Vulnerably, he continues on to discuss his journey after. A journey of fearing what people would think of him if they found out the truth. The internal conflict of not wanting to succumb to his fear and unfamiliarity of talking about himself. The loss of his beloved grandmother whom he never allowed himself to grieve over; a discovery that he attributes a large portion of his mental health too. Despite being fearful of sharing his feelings for most of his life, Kevin Love does not hold back in this letter to the world.

When Love was unfolding his own story in the letter, after every line, I was thinking I understand or That’s exactly how I felt. While I have never been remotely close to being a top tier athlete at any time in my life, I connected to his experiences. I connected to him in my own experience with my mental health. While he struggled with the stereotypes of what being a man entailed, I struggled more so with the stereotypes of Asian Americans not being known for expressing their feelings -- especially related to mental health. Like him, I felt like my mental health could not be an issue for me. It was not an issue for any of my siblings and I did not think I had circumstances that would lead to my own mental health issues. Yet, I too had lost my grandmother just a few years before my first anxiety attack. He used basketball as a diversion from his mental health and I used my own activities. So I understand how difficult it was for Kevin Love to release his vulnerable truth to the world. I was positively impacted by the bravery of an athlete who used his platform and helped normalize all of the hardships, insecurities, and victories that come with mental health.

To see a man who is at the top of a game break down the stigmas of what it means to be a man, what it means to be an athlete, and how to openly discuss mental health, it is an incredibly humbling and inspiring experience. I applaud Kevin Love for being a public advocate for anybody who is struggling with their mental health and for helping to keep these types of conversations present in media. He is a role model to many young athletes out there who will understand that there is always room for mental health, even in sports.

“Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing.” -Kevin Love

Post By: Ty Tanioka

To read the article by The Players’ Tribune, press this link:

If you or anyone you know are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.