The Mental Health Struggle of Delonte West

The story of the player who changed the approach to mental struggles

Delonte West was a player destined for greatness, but mental health issues stemming from his difficult life burdened him repeatedly. Following his story, awareness of mental struggles among athletes in the NBA has risen

(Photo: Keith Allison/ Owings Mills via Wikimedia)

Being a professional athlete is not an easy task; you are dealing with tremendous pressures and must remain composed in front of millions of spectators, which can lead to mental struggles. Awareness of this issue has significantly increased in recent years, largely due to the painful story of Delonte West.

West was born on July 26, 1983, in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the capital of the United States. His father was a basketball player with mental health disorders, while his mother was Native American, which gave him a different appearance from his peers and led to social problems from a young age.

At the age of 13 he experimented with alcohol and drugs

His parents divorced when he was young, and the only thing that gave West strength was basketball. At the age of 12, he broke his leg, which prevented him from playing basketball for several months. The absence of basketball in his life led to emotional distress and self-destructive behavior.

His mother thought that spending time with his father would improve his mood, but his father, who struggled with mental health issues himself, only exacerbated the situation. West started hanging out with a delinquent crowd and, by the age of 13, experimented with alcohol and drugs.

Delonte West was diagnosed with manic depressive disorder

When he recovered from the injury he returned to play and managed to rehabilitate, the good times continued in college where he led his team to a 30-2 record in the regular season.

He was selected in the NBA Draft in 2004 by one of the world's major teams, the Boston Celtics, but failed to impress there. In 2008, he was traded to LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers, but quickly clashed with the team's players.

The TD Garden, Celtics' arena (Photo: Shutterstock)

The team management, realizing that something was not routine with West, sent him for psychological counseling where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. West started taking medication, but they didn't seem to help him much. He continued to struggle, and in 2009, he was arrested with three illegal firearms and sentenced to 8 months of home detention and 40 hours of community service.

Delonte West: Argued with LeBron James

He was dismissed from his team following a conflict with LeBron James due to a sexual misconduct incident, and he returned to Boston for a weak season. After that, no team except for the Dallas Mavericks, who signed him to a one-year contract, was willing to take the risk.

LeBron James, feuded with West (Photo: Shutterstock)

The player strike in the same season when he did not receive salaries caused him to lose a lot of money and start working in another job simultaneously, selling memorabilia from his career.

In 2012, he returned to play in Dallas but was forced to sleep in the locker room as he was not allowed to rent an apartment due to his criminal past. The team owner, Mark Cuban, heard about his situation and bought him an apartment. Even in Dallas, he ended up in conflicts with players and moved on to play in the Chinese league.

Marc Cubin saves him time and time again

In 2015, he returned to the United States to play in the development league, but a severe injury led him to retire permanently. After retirement, he managed to lose all his money, among other things, due to a messy divorce. He fell back into drugs and alcohol, appeared homeless several times, and rumors of his death circulated.

Mark Cuban, the man who saved him time and time again, invested a lot of money in finding him and took him to a rehabilitation center. A few weeks later, Cuban shared a picture of him riding on a horse during the rehabilitation process, looking healthy and smiling.

Marc Cubin, saved him all along (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Peoria via Wikimedia)

Afterwards, he began working as a counselor at a rehabilitation center. Following his story, other players started sharing their mental health struggles, and the NBA initiated a new reform aimed at addressing the players' mental well-being. Later, it seemed he was collecting donations again, but reassured everyone that he was fine and looking for work.


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