The stress almost caused Giannis Antetokounmpo to leave the NBA
It’s hard to imagine that NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo almost left the NBA, but in 2020, it was almost a reality.
The Milwaukee Bucks star recently revealed that he was considering retiring from the game he loves so much due to struggles with his mental health. And now she wants to make sure others who are struggling get the help they need through her foundation.
Giannis Antetokounmpo almost retired from the NBA in 2020
It’s hard to believe that the Bucks could be without their star player. Despite signing a five-year, $228 million contract, Antetokounmpo was ready to say goodbye to the NBA. He ended up hanging on and winning the NBA title the following season, as well as his first Finals MVP trophy. All of this almost never happened due to mental health issues.
The NBA star recently opened up about his experience with Lori Nickel and revealed that he almost retired in 2020. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
The pressure and stress caught up with the 25-year-old star player. “Mental health is very important to me,” she said. “Everyone, no matter where I am, everyone is watching me. I don’t think I have time to switch off. Be myself. Kind of… be me.”
He then explained a situation that occurred during his visit to Orlando. “I was walking in the hotel and there were three small children. We stayed at this hotel which was five minutes from Disney World. This lady was probably with her grandchildren. He was like 55, 60 years old – the same age as my mother. And the children were younger, like 5, 6, 7 years old,” he explained.
“And he said, ‘Hey guys, do you know who this is?’ No, they had no idea; they were excited to go to Disney World. He turned around and said, “This is the best player in the world.”
He went on to explain that while that’s good to hear, it’s “a lot of pressure.”
“Going through this, to be the best, you have to play like the best. You have to practice like the best. You have to be your best self. Which is not easy,” he said. “No matter what people say, I handle it well because it’s my personality, it’s hard. It’s not easy.”
That’s when he dropped a bombshell that probably no one expected. “In 2020 … I was ready to get out of the game,” he said. “Yes, I discussed it with the office.”
He said everyone looked at him like he was crazy. “He just signed the biggest contract in NBA history and he wants to walk away from the game and all the money?” – He told. “But I don’t care. I care about pleasure. I am a happy person. My father had nothing; we had. He was the richest man in the world because he had children. He had his beautiful family; he had nothing. It means nothing to me.”
The stress and pressure had been building up in him for some time. His father died unexpectedly, he worked hard in the NBA, the Greek national team, with signing obligations, and he was a family man with his longtime girlfriend Mariah Riddlesprigger and their two boys, Liam (3) and Maverick (1).
Giannis Antetokounmpo realized he needed to talk to someone about his mental health struggles
For a long time, the Bucks star didn’t believe he needed help. Growing up in poverty and living in fight or flight mode for so long, it was hard for him to admit his emotions.
“In 2017, 2018, DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love made it public what they were dealing with,” he said, referring to their depression and anxiety. “I said, ‘I don’t understand what this is.’ I do not. I was just young. It’s just basketball; just play But then you understand. To be MVP, to win a championship, to help your teammates be great, and then you understand it all.”
He said he gave therapy a chance and it helped put him in a better place. “Someone helped put me back in a place to appreciate all that I have that comes with being who I am. To feel good about myself. Whatever the outcome of the game, please understand that I have no control over this. I can only control my efforts. How hard I work. How I make people feel around me. Hopefully how I try to inspire people with what I do,” he explained.
“I talked to this (counselor) constantly. It helped me a lot – not just to be a better basketball player, but to deal with it; but to be a better partner, a better father, a better brother, a better son. A better person.”
The family started the Charles Antetokounmpo Family Foundation
The family decided to create a foundation in Charles Antetokounmpo’s honor to help others in different areas, mental health being one of them.
“I feel like a lot of people are dealing with it, but they’re not willing to talk about it,” Antetokounmpo said. “They’re not willing to fix it because there’s this stigma behind it. “If you talk about it, you’re soft, you’re weak” it’s a sport, you have to be tough. You have to fight everything.”
He also revealed that he spoke to fellow basketball player Love and told him how he inspired him to open up and be better. And now he wants to help as many people as possible in the same way.
The mission is a Charles Antetokounmpo Family Foundation the following: “Helping refugees and immigrants by supporting the improvement of living conditions and opening paths to self-sufficiency; helping young people, eliminating the persistent lack of opportunities experienced by young people worldwide; developing the world of sport, empowering players to expand opportunities for themselves and their communities; and provide assistance with subsistence needs such as food and shelter, the basic needs that enable these outcomes.”
Through the foundation, Antidote Health helps families and individuals struggling with mental health who do not have private insurance but do not qualify for government programs and therapeutic assistance. Milwaukee residents can find the Leave One Behind campaign’s free mental health program on the website website.