Add Washington Wizards swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. to the growing list of NBA players sharing their personal experiences with mental health issues. Oubre admitted to NBC reporters that he’s “going through a lot” internally. An adolescence in New Orleans and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina shuffled Oubre to different schools and living environments. His breakthrough into the NBA was a rare occasion but apparently, behind the scenes, it’s still a tough fight.

Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Friday, March 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

After recent admissions from Toronto swingman DeMar DeRozan about his own bouts with depression and Cleveland forward Kevin Love about panic attacks he suffered earlier in the year, Oubre decided to come clean about his own struggles when he was “living in a Motel 6 with dead cockroaches all over the floor,” and “seeing my dad struggle, it was tough for me,” Oubre admitted to NBC Sports Washington. Mental health in sports isn’t a new topic as former NBA stars like Ron Artest and Dennis Rodman have openly expressed personal problems that weren’t as easily exposed during their careers. Oubre, however, isn’t as old or experienced as his peers as a 22-year-old reserve. In the age of flashy social media profiles, you don’t find too many athletes putting their coolness to the side to discuss internal matters so Oubre deserves some kudos.

The NBA is forming a near all-star team of mentally-stressed athletes. Normally, change comes once a slew of occurrences begin. However, unless the NBA is willing to start installing therapists and sociologists in every locker room then we may continue to see a rising trend in athletes opening up about their own lives. Commend Oubre for sidestepping his ego to put his own self on blast. And expect a bunch more of these high-profiled athletes to come forward with their own stories. Things are just beginning.

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO