Boston Celtics

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Former Celtics great Paul Pierce and current C’s forward Marcus Morris both came forward in new stories to discuss their struggles with depression. They spoke with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan for the first two parts of a five-part series on mental health issues in the NBA.

In part one, Pierce details the post-traumatic stress he felt in the months after suffering multiple stab wounds on Sept. 25, 2000. He had a 24-hour-a-day police at his home at one point, isolating himself to the point of depression and struggling with anxiety and paranoia to boot.

“I battled depression for a year. The only thing that saved me was basketball,” Pierce said. He regrets failing to address his mental health with a professional sooner, a recommendation the Celtics made to him soon after he was released from the hospital following the stabbing.

As revealed in part two, the Celtics also recommended a mental health expert to Marcus Morris. The Celtics forward credits president of basketball ops Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens with introducing him to Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker. Morris says his sessions with Pinder-Amaker have helped him immensely in his battle.

“If you have depression, you should be trying to get rid of it instead of bottling it up and letting it weigh on you and weigh on you and weigh on you,” said Morris. “Talking to Stephanie released so much of that stress for me.”

Morris and his brother Markieff both agreed to be interviewed and revealed their respective struggles with depression. But only Marcus went on the record. The twins grew up “surrounded by violence, gangs” in a dangerous area of Philadelphia, where their “fractured childhood” contributed to the development of issues with depression later on.

Other current and former NBA players have opened up about their struggles with mental health for the series. That includes Cavaliers forwards Kevin Love and Channing Frye, Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, former Heat and Raptors big man Chris Bosh, and ex-Spurs forward Bruce Bowen.

The full stories are must-read accounts of unseen struggles for professional athletes, and reminders that anyone can struggle with depression, anxiety, or other afflictions. Even the very best at their crafts have trouble staving off those demons. But it’s a positive sign that more players are willing to talk openly about their internal battles and bring awareness to an issue that deserves a lot more of it.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.