Love leading community as he sets out to lead young Cavs

Mental health initiative already taking hold in Independence

Alex Hooper
September 24, 2018 - 6:18 pm

Ben Fontana - 92.3 The Fan

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Indpendence, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Over the past summer, Kevin Love became the face of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Over the past year, the 30-year-old has become the face of something much bigger.

Since his Players’ Tribune article, titled “Everybody Is Going Through Something,” and the panic attack during a Nov. 5 game against the Atlanta Hawks that set it in motion, Love has advocated for mental health awareness. On Sep. 18, the five-time All-Star announced the establishment of the Kevin Love Fund, an initiative to aid people in enhancing their physical and mental well-being.

The initial push by Love took off early, with San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan opening up about his own battles with depression.

While Love may not have seemed the most relatable at first - tall, rich and handsome with an NBA father and rock star uncle – he is here to let everybody know that he is no different than anyone else. Nor is his family.

“The idea started really organically, just seeing what at least my father’s side of the family, including him, what they had gone through. Just knowing what I have dealt with for many years on the anxiety and depression side of things, to now facing all this stuff head on, writing the article, being very vulnerable, being able to help all demographics knowing that this thing doesn’t discriminate,” Love said. “To see how things are now, I think that’s probably what I’m most proud of. Know that this thing does have legs and that we’re going to be able to help so many people with this.”

As he transitions to being the leader of an NBA franchise for the first time since being dealt to Cleveland in 2014, Love has already become the face of a worldwide community. Those without the burden that he and so many others carry have begun to gain an understanding of the true meanings of the words anxiety and depression.

Those who are afflicted with those issues, yet have never known how to handle it, can now learn from the experience of someone many look up to, and will continue to.

“It’s tough to have the presence of mind when you’re young to even understand what you’re going through. I know for a fact that I didn’t,” Love added. “I always asked for so long, ‘Why am I feeling this way?’ But as a parent, that’s something that I’m going to have to learn when that time comes, and also I would just tell the kid, ‘Don’t be afraid to speak.’ It might not be us, it might be a family member. It might not be a parent, it might be a cousin, uncle, brother, friend, a counselor, a teacher. Anyone that you look up to that you know you can bounce ideas off of, bounce your feelings off of.

“For most people, it’s right in an arm’s reach, and luckily with communication now, you can FaceTime somebody, you can text, call. No matter what it is, we have this community, and knowing now especially with beating down that stigma, a lot more people are going to come forward, knowing that someone else is dealing with something. That communication is going to be key, that transparency is going to be key.”

The player himself has not needed to look far for someone to be there for, or to be there for him. Love’s own coach, Tyronn Lue, has dealt with anxiety issues as recently as last season, when he took a leave of absence to deal with “chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep.”

Lue championed his pupil for the work he has already done, citing the impact it has had so far. He also believes Love’s initiative will continue to spread as quickly as it has to this point.

“A lot of people have reached out to me, just telling me how big it has been for Kevin opening up so their kids, their children can see that it can happen to professional athletes as well, celebrities as well,” Lue said. I think Kevin opening up and being that vehicle to younger generations that, ‘Kevin Love, oh my God, he experiences this.’ DeMar DeRozan. I think it takes a tough, powerful guy to do that. By them doing it, it just raises awareness, and hopefully can help a lot of people in the future.

“To share that, I think this very difficult. As a professional athlete, you always want to be the tough guy, but to break down and talk about mental illness, for Kevin, I think is a huge step.”