Mental illness is nothing to joke about, and professional athletes are not immune to it. Athletes like Metta World Peace are trying to do their part to help destigmatize mental illness among their fellow athletes.
“I don’t feel bad about telling somebody I see a psychologist. I don’t feel that you should feel bad about improving yourself. And then if you tell people that you’re trying to improve yourself, they’re going to want to improve themselves and not be embarrassed about going to see a psychologist,” Metta World Peace told HuffPost Live last week.
Maybe the Los Angeles Laker could reach out to one athlete who needs help: Delonte West.
West was spotted wandering Westheimer Road in Houston by a fan, who then posted photos of the former NBA player on Instagram. The posts, which have since been made private, were then sent to TMZ.
Instagram user @shoun_htx told TMZ that he noticed West wandering around shoeless and wearing a hospital gown under his shirt. The Instagram user asked West if he was truly Delonte West, and he replied, “I used to be, but I’m not about that life anymore.”
West’s mental-health issues were made public in 2008 after he spoke about being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. After his diagnosis, he took a leave of absence from the Cleveland Cavaliers and returned to his hometown of Washington, D.C., for counseling and began using medication to help him with his issues.
In the Washington Post last year, reporter Rick Maese chronicled the athlete’s downward spiral:
Shortly after Cleveland collapsed in the playoffs, someone started an unfounded—but well circulated—rumor that the Cavaliers had lost because James had discovered West was romantically involved with the superstar’s mother. West has repeatedly denied the story.
Then, on the night of Sept. 17, 2009, West was pulled over for an improper lane change as he rode his three-wheeled Can-Am Spyder motorcycle on Route 214, not far from his Fort Washington home. He told the officer he had a handgun in his waistband. A subsequent search found three guns—a Beretta 9mm in West’s waistband, a Ruger .357 magnum strapped to his leg and a shotgun in a guitar case slung over his back. Each gun was loaded.