Mental health often comes attached with a stigma in sports but is becoming a touchy, hot-button topic that certainly needs to be discussed much more openly. In recent years, we’ve seen a number of different athletes open up regarding their struggles with mental health, whether it be depression, anxiety or any other condition.
Now, former NBA player and Toronto Raptor Lucas Nogueira is the latest to have his voice be heard when it comes to suffering from mental health conditions. According to ESPN’s Gustavo Faldon, Nogueira has been dealing with depression since late last year but hasn’t felt comfortable enough to discuss the matter until now.
“This is why I kind of stopped talking about my frustrations. I talked to a lot of people I shouldn’t have in this period of time,” Nogueira said. “I thought they would help, but they didn’t. People start to make fun of you and mock you just because you have some money and some status, they think you’re untouchable, like you’re not human. Money and status don’t matter that much. It [depression] can happen to anybody. You can’t escape just because you’re famous.”
Of course, this comes after his teammate DeMar DeRozan helped start the trend of athletes openly admitting their struggles with mental health over a year ago. DeRozan revealed his personal struggle with depression and anxiety in early 2018.
“Everyone found out through the media,” Nogueira said of DeRozan. “Maybe [Kyle] Lowry knew it already because they were inseparable. If you’re not a communicative guy like myself, it’s hard to share this stuff with other people. Everyone got scared, you know? A guy with his athleticism, technique and status we think cannot suffer with this. No one had the opportunity to talk to him just like they didn’t talk to me either. I was pretty bad in May. It got worse in September, then I decided to come back to Brazil.”
While Nogueira still hopes to play in the NBA one day, it’s important that he take care of his mental health before jumping headfirst back into the sport he loves. Nogueira spent four years in the NBA, all of which were with the Raptors. The 26-year-old was a solid presence off the bench for Toronto and when asked whether he’s ready for a return to the NBA, the Brazilian center says the time will come.
“If you asked me the same question four months ago, I’d say I didn’t know,” Nogueira said. “Now I say I will be back. What makes me so confident is my training and my attitude. I’m ready for the challenge like I’ve never been.”