NBA Stars Push Back Against Stigma Of Mental Health Issues After Parkland Shooting

By Victoria Kim 03/06/18
NBA All Stars Dikembe Mutombo and Steph Curry spoke about young people's mental health during a recent forum.
Stephen Curry of The Golden State Warriors
Two-time MVP Stephen Curry of The Golden State Warriors Photo via YouTube

In the wake of the Parkland massacre, the February school shooting that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the NBA is exploring how to better engage and help young people who struggle with mental health issues.

NBA All Stars Dikembe Mutombo and Steph Curry were a part of the conversation last Thursday (Mar. 1) at the Total Health Forum in Atlanta, Georgia, hosted by the NBA and Kaiser Permanente.

Following the Parkland shooting, reports tried piecing together the mental health history of Nikolas Cruz, who has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. The 19-year-old had “exhibited troubling behavior nearly a year and a half before” Parkland, according to the New York Times.

The FBI admitted that it had failed to act on a tip that identified Cruz as a “gun owner intent on killing people, possibly at a school,” the Times reported.

The athletes at the forum, including keynote speaker and boxing legacy Laila Ali, explored how to build strong communities and empower youth to be resilient and emotionally healthy, and how sports can achieve these goals.

“Talk to them; open up the door for them. That will allow them to come to us as a teacher, as a mentor, as coaches, principals, parents, to tell us what issues they are facing,” said Mutombo, a Hall of Famer and father of six, who played for the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets. “There is a lot of pressure being put on our youth to succeed in their life.”

Kids who are struggling “should not be afraid to show their emotions,” and should hopefully “understand they have people they can talk to,” said five-time All Star Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

Building resilience from a young age is key, said Curry. “Just having that confidence in yourself that no matter what happens in life, you have an opportunity to right the ship, to continue to exceed to higher levels no matter what you are doing,” he said, according to CNN.

“I think we all will experience failure at one point or another. We all will have letdowns, and that should not define you. You should be able to learn from those experiences, to make yourself better, and come back stronger… Having that resilient attitude is something everyone should adopt.”

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