Darkness of depression

Life and Basketball was made for us to HAVE FUN!

I have been forced to reflect on this when I know it’s in my life. Staring me down,  prowling like a wolf, waiting to affect my life.

This disease really has hit home for me in the last two years. 

According to data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: 

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • It’s the 2nd leading cause of death among people ages 10-34.
  • More Americans are dying from drug and alcohol abuse and suicides than at any point in roughly the last two decades.

A good friend and colleague of mine,  Alan Stein, talks publicly about his bout with depression following his divorce. Alan was a tremendously successful coach in our industry and now a very successful author and Leadership Coach. It can happen to anyone! People with success and people without success, it happens to us all. It happens a lot not only in our Coaching Industry but others as well.  

One of the coaches that I mentored at Elevate for over two years, committed suicide  just over two years ago. 

Multiple family members of mine have suffered and still are suffering from depression. They stay in bed all day, they live with no purpose and no emotion. 

Most recently, a Coach who I have influenced, spent time with in Greece last year, and a friend of mine, just ended his life tragically. 

 A former professional Coach overseas,  ran his own basketball Academy, has three kids and a loving wife, a down to earth passionate and positive person!  All of that wasn’t enough to beat the demons of depression. He was in his forties and he is never ever coming back to this life again. 

I am writing this blog because I’m sad, angry, confused but PASSIONATE that this does not happen to me, my family, or  anybody else in the World. I’m passionate to help spread solutions to darkness’s,  fear, lack of significance and staleness in coaches, players and people’s lives.

Most likely, depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

The good news is that it can be successfully treated. Learn to spot the symptoms, find the causes, and get help for the right people.

  • According to data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 17.3 million adults in the United States—equaling 7.1% of all adults in the country—have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. 
  • It’s estimated that 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lifetime.


Look at the NBA, every team has a Sport Psychologist now because mental health is a real priority. Superstars like, Kevin Love, Demar Derozan, Vin Baker, Metta World Peace, Roy Hibbert, and Kelly Oubre. The world’s most decorated Olympian, Michael Phelps has had major battles with depression. When Coaches take a “leave of absence” many times it’s depression or lack of balance, anxiety and/or stress.

The NBA released a memo requiring all 30 teams to retain at least one mental health professional on their staff in 2019-20.

Former NBA Player Keyon Dooling came out with a vivid description of his depression. I had a chance to meet him this summer at the NCAA Phoenix Camp. 

“On the ride home, I started calling everybody in my phone — literally every number from the top — and pleading with them to find God. I was screaming, ‘We’ve got to come to the Lord!’ I will never forget that feeling of support. It saved my life. They kept saying, ‘It’s gonna be O.K. Let’s just get you some help.’ When we have diabetes, we go get treated. When we tear our ACL, we go get surgery. But if our heart is broken, or if our soul is hurting, what do we do? I can say it now, after years of therapy and self-reflection and work: If you are hurting, get some help. You can call out to God. But your second call should be the doctor.”

Keyon Dooling - Players Tribune May 1, 2018 Tweet

Depression is real but it can be treated! Suicide IS NOT the answer. That’s the soft, selfish, silent, way out.  It happens when people get stuck, have lost their purpose/ calling, lose joy, don’t do what they want to do, become stale. Their ambition is gone, growth halts, and they don’t cope, they mentally complain. Many have are successful and are depressed, many aren’t successful and are depressed. Depression doesn’t discriminate. It attacks darkness in your souls. 

There are many coaches that don’t reflect, they analyze plays but not their heart. They struggle with connection, how to connect.  But it’s never that bad. However, when you take your own life, you leave battle scars for your loved ones. The wife, husband, kids, sisters, brothers, uncles, cousins, parents will NEVER be the same. 

Just look at the recent tragedy, PG for Michigan St, Cassius Winston, is facing. In November of 2019 his brother committed suicide. Cassius and his family have had a public struggle. It’s truly amazing how he is handling this diversity in his life right now, playing at such a high level as a student athlete. 

As people deal with depression, my prayer is that they would fight harder! Other people should fight harder for them. Below are some strategies that have worked for me. Please know I am not a professional psychologist or counselor. These are just some things that have helped me stay positive in the past. These strategies are also similar to what has helped Keyon Dooling overcome his battle. 


Strategy 1: Get the positive word in you!

– Memorize it, recite, repeat and review over and over again. Let your mouth tell your mind what to think. Let your mind tell your heart what to feel! Darkness and light can’t operate in the same vessel.

– Positive thoughts for a positive mind. It can be very simple. 

My grandparents made us say this before we left the breakfast table every morning when we were growing up.

“I am going to do my best and a little bit more. I AM, I CAN, I WILL!” 

Strategy 2: Be conscious of what music you listen to, what you are watching on TV and who you hang with. 

1) What Music are you listening to? 

– is it healthy? Is it violent? Is it uplifting? What are the words going from the song to your head because that’s what you are constantly listening too! Those constant WORDS WORDS WORDS go into your psyche.

2) What movies/shows/video games do you watch/play?

– “Your eye is a lamp to your body.” The eye is the window to your soul. What that means to me is that if you SEE it, you start to THINK it. Many great things happen in life because somebody did it first and they did it with impact. It got people’s thoughts/emotions moving in a strong direction 

– Negative and positive movies can influence you. Media shows and outlets stir controversy and conflict and fear within you.

– Studies have show that violent video games has sparked violence and depression in adolescents lives 

– Guard your heart. Be aware of the negativity you are viewing. It absolutely affects your emotions and disposition. 

3) Who do you hang with?

– Assimilation by Association Law – Whoever you hang out with, is the habits and behaviors you eventually will develop. It’s called culture. You get “hooked” to who you hang with. Unless you are intentional on changing the culture you are in, then your negative environment will produce negative thinking and negative behaviors. That’s a fact.

– Who do you hang with? 


I will have more strategies to offer in my blog next week. Stay tuned! 

In the meantime, do you have any thoughts on depression of basketball players, coaches, leaders? I would like to hear from you. 

How bad is it?

How as leaders, do you and I address it? 

What can we do to educate inspire and help people not commit suicide or ruin their life for the moment? 

May God help and Bless us All 🙏🏼

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