How A Fellow NBA Star Inspired Kevin Love To Open Up About His Mental Health

"Everyone is going through something that we can’t see."

NBA star Kevin Love is opening up about his experience with a panic attack in the hope of encouraging others to talk about their mental health. The Cleveland Cavaliers player penned an essay for The Players' Tribune in which he describes the panic attack, which occurred during a game last November, as well as his subsequent decision to attend therapy.

"It came out of nowhere. I'd never had one before. I didn't even know if they were real," he writes. "But it was real — as real as a broken hand or a sprained ankle. Since that day, almost everything about the way I think about my mental health has changed."


The 29-year-old goes on to explain that he's "never been comfortable sharing much about myself," and acknowledges the role masculinity and athleticism have played in that discomfort. "Partly, I want to do it for me," he wrote of his decision to open up, "but mostly, I want to do it because people don't talk about mental health enough. And men and boys are probably the farthest behind."

"Growing up, you figure out really quickly how a boy is supposed to act. You learn what it takes to 'be a man.' It's like a playbook: Be strong. Don't talk about your feelings. Get through it on your own," Love explains, adding that he used to consider mental health to be "someone else's problem."

Love describes the stress over family issues and "expectations for the season," as well as difficulty sleeping, which led up to his panic attack. He left the game and visited the Cleveland Clinic, and afterward said he was "relieved" that most people didn't know the reason for his absence. "It was a wake-up call, that moment," he wrote. "I'd thought the hardest part was over after I had the panic attack. It was the opposite. Now I was left wondering why it happened — and why I didn't want to talk about it."

That's when he says the Cavaliers helped him find a therapist, and although he entered with "some skepticism," he discovered "the power of saying things out loud in a setting like that," and shared his desire to create "a better environment for talking about mental health."

Love also shared that one inspiration for writing the essay was fellow NBA star DeMar DeRozan, who just last week opened up about his struggle with depression. "It's one of them things that no matter how indestructible we look like we are, we're all human at the end of the day," the Toronto Raptors player told the Toronto Star.

DeRozan said the response to his remarks has been "positive," and reacted to Love's essay in an interview with ESPN, saying, "It made me feel, you know, pretty damn good, honestly. So it's cool to be able to help somebody."

Love closed his essay with an important message: "Everyone is going through something that we can't see." 

"Not talking about our inner lives robs us of really getting to know ourselves and robs us of the chance to reach out to others in need," he wrote. "So if you're reading this and you're having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you're not weird or different for sharing what you're going through."

You can read Love's full essay on The Players' Tribune. You can also share your own story about mental health by emailing him at


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