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Los Angeles Clippers' John Wall opens up about mental health struggles

Los Angeles Clippers star John Wall wrote candidly about his struggles with mental health in a piece posted to the Players' Tribune Thursday.

In the column, titled "I'm Still Here," the 32-year-old said his difficulties began in early 2019, when he ruptured his Achilles while a member of the Washington Wizards, the team that drafted him No. 1 overall back in 2010. Wall said that he sustained "such a bad infection from the surgeries that I nearly had to have my foot amputated."

"In 2017, I'm jumping up on the announcer's table in D.C. after forcing Game 7 against Boston, and I'm the king of the city," Wall wrote. "I'm getting a max extension, thinking I'm a Wizard for life. A year later, I tore my Achilles and lost the only sanctuary I've ever known - the game of basketball."

NBA player John Wall attends a game between the Houston Rockets and the Orlando Magic during the 2022 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 7, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Getty Images

Wall said the chronic injuries coupled with the death of his "best friend in the whole world" — his mother, Frances Ann Pulley — a year later sent him to "a really dark place."

In December 2020, the Wizards traded the five-time NBA All-Star — who was still recovering from his torn Achilles — to the Houston Rockets, in exchange for Russell Westbrook.

Wall said that outwardly "you never would've thought anything was wrong. I wasn't telling my circle anything, even my right-hand guy. I was partying a lot, trying to mask all the pain."

"But when everybody goes home at the end of the night, and your head hits that pillow? There's no forgetting. There's no more mask," he wrote.

Wall said it was ultimately "the love of my sons" which motivated him to keep going. And he eventually confided in a friend that, "Yo! I need some f------ help!"

He began meeting with a therapist, "and it slowly turned things around."

"I still talk to my therapist to this day, and I'm still unpacking a lot of the crazy s--- that I've been through," Wall explained. "I'm never going to stop doing it, because I really don't know when the darkness could come back. Right now, though? I'm feeling better than I've felt in years. I feel like I'm breathing fresh air again. I feel a sense of peace."

Wall reached a contract buyout with the Rockets this past summer and subsequently signed a deal to join the Clippers.

"I get to wake up in the morning and do what I love to do - play basketball for a living, be a good father to my sons, and carry on the legacy and the light of Frances Ann Pulley," he wrote. 

Earlier this week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of health experts, proposed depression screenings for all adults, and anxiety screenings for all those under 65. The screenings, according to the panel, are designed to identify early signs of anxiety and depression in Americans who may not be showing symptoms. 

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email [email protected].

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