NBA's Channing Frye Describes How Depression Impacted His Life

By David Konow 11/07/17

“It’s hard when you can’t get out of bed, or when you can’t enjoy the little things... Your body aches, your mind aches, and for me, that’s how it was.”

Channing Frye
Photo via YouTube

Recently a number of professional athletes have come forward about their mental health struggles, and now Channing Frye, who plays power forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, just gave a candid interview to Complex about his battle with depression.

Frye sank into depression after losing his parents to health issues. In 2016, Frye lost his mother and father within a month of each other, an experience that left him “emotionally exhausted” and “broken.”

In talking publicly about his depression, Frye said, “The biggest thing for me was just being able to be comfortable with the situation as much as possible, telling my story and normalizing it, which is kind of hard because nobody thinks about these things until they happen... It felt good to talk through my emotions: to talk through how I felt and how it affected me and how I can be vulnerable.”

Frye admitted he was “pretty good at hiding things,” but when the 2016-2017 season was over, his depression finally caught up with him and he decided to seek out help.

“I’ve spent a lot of time over the summer talking to professionals and being able to adjust and to be able to let go of some of the things that I felt. As professional athletes, we’re supposed to tuck emotion down away, and you get used to that because in a game, you may not like a play, but you have to let that go and continue moving on. Real life is different.”

And indeed, athletes are often viewed as superhuman, but Frye says, “It’s hard when you can’t get out of bed, or when you can’t enjoy the little things when you know you should... Your body aches, your mind aches, and for me, that’s how it was.”

Frye had support from his teammates—“those guys really understand me”—and he also recommended seeking professional help to those who are suffering. “Even if you may think you’re okay, go see somebody,” he says. “Talk to somebody. You may learn something about yourself that you didn’t know and you can avoid that situation from getting deeper.”

When asked if he felt that depression was common in the NBA, Frye said, “My best answer would be probably yeah, there might be a bunch of guys that are depressed and they just don’t know it and deal with it in unhealthy ways... It’s fine to not be okay right now. Just allow yourself to be given the right information and make the right decisions that will help you to feel better.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.