In a recent interview, Damian Lillard had some thoughts regarding mental health issues in the sports world. As the topic arose, he said that he felt similar to many athletes currently enduring mental health problems.
According to Lillard, he felt as if he previously battled depression.
When people describe what depression looks like, or [what] battling mental health looks like. Sometimes I look back like I had a couple of those moments. I just didn’t recognize that that’s what was happening.Damian Lillard
Issues of mental health in the sports world came to prominence as Simone Biles dropped out of the all-around competition in the Olympics. Team USA said that Biles withdrew “to focus on her mental health.”
As the news broke out, numerous athletes came out in her support. Lillard is another athlete realizing that mental health problems are a serious reality in the sporting community.
The Portland Trail Blazers star guard even said he “looked back at some of [his] experiences” and saw mental health issues. Unknown to him at the time, he also reported that he “didn’t recognize” the severity or even existence of problems.
Many athletes fail to realize mental health is a real problem. In Lillard’s case, he said that he feels the pain of athletes having these issues.
“I can definitely relate to how [athletes suffering mental health problems] feel.”Damian Lillard
His realization comes at a time where his future in Portland is unknown. Since his draft day in 2012, Lillard grew into Portland’s franchise player and arguably their best player ever. However, this offseason saw questions arise about his future.
At 31, he isn’t a star on the rise anymore. Lillard admitted this along with his disappointment after another underwhelming Blazers season.
One being I�m not getting any younger. Our environment has always been great. We�re not losing a lot, but we were eliminated by a shorthanded Denver team that I felt we should have beat. I just walked away from that really disappointed.Damian Lillard
Hopefully, for Lillard, he can overcome any mental health struggles he has. For now, his focus remains on the Olympics as Team USA chases the gold medal.