Five-time All-Star John Wall has opened up on his personal battle with mental health in a published essay for the The Players’ Tribune, as he got ‘as close as you can get’ to suicide after a serious injury that nearly required his foot to be amputated and the deaths of his mother and grandmother.
Wall has gone through a series of injuries and has played in just 113 games over the past five seasons, first with the Washington Wizards, then the Houston Rockets – for whom he sat out for throughout the entirety of last season – and now the LA Clippers over the summer.
His mother died of breast cancer late in 2019 and his grandmother died during the pandemic. As the country dealt with COVID-19, Wall was also battling in his inner self each day.
‘One night, after all my homies had left and it was just me sitting there all alone with my thoughts running wild, I got about as close as you can get to making an unfortunate decision and leaving this earth,’ Wall wrote in his essay.
‘At one point in time, I thought about committing suicide,’ the 32-year-old added in his personal essay, as he is set to enter his 12th NBA season.
The 2014 NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion elaborated on how things quickly went downhill for him ever since he had signed a four-year, over-$170million contract extension with the Wizards in 2017 and how it has helped shape into a better person.
‘I tore my Achilles and lost the only sanctuary I’ve ever known – the game of basketball,’ Wall said. ‘I ended up with such a bad infection from the surgeries that I nearly had to have my foot amputated.
‘A year later, I lost my best friend in the whole world, my mom, to breast cancer.’
Wall first opened up on his struggles in August at a Salvation Army event in Raleigh, North Carolina – where he was raised by his mother.
‘Darkest place I’ve ever been in,’ the veteran point guard told Donal Ware of Box to Row Radio nearly a month ago. ‘At one point in time, I thought about committing suicide.’
Wall was a hot commodity and a big-time star for the Wizards before knee and leg injuries began taking their toll. He was an All-Star from 2013-18 and averaged a career-high 23.1 points during the 2016-17 season.
Wall was traded to the Rockets during the 2020-21 season as part of the mega trade for Russell Westbrook. He played in 40 games for Houston that season and then sat out last season while the rebuilding club looked for a trade partner and wanted to develop its young core led by the likes of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.
The last four or five years have caused a lot of unrest in Wall’s personal life and losing two close family members has clearly taken a toll on him at one point.
Wall had to also be the ‘man of the house’ at the tender age of nine years old after his father died from liver cancer.
‘Money and fame don’t mean s**t if you don’t have peace in your life,’ he wrote.
Wall then said he began to see a therapist to help him work through his pain.
‘I still talk to my therapist to this day, and I’m still unpacking a lot of the crazy s**t that I’ve been through. I’m never going to stop doing it, because I really don’t know when the darkness could come back.
‘Right now, though? I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in years. I feel like I’m breathing fresh air again. I feel a sense of peace. I get to wake up in the morning and do what I love to do – play basketball for a living, be a good father to my sons, and carry on the legacy and the light of Frances Ann Pulley.’
In June, the Rockets and Wall had reached a contract buyout agreement before the latter joined the Clippers in early July.
His NBA return is set for October 20 when he and his new team take on the Lakers in the ‘battle for LA’.
Having Kawhi Leonard and Paul George as teammates is something that perks up Wall’s spirits.
‘And I know y’all heard me say it not too long ago, when I was playing pickup with [Paul George] and them… ”I’m back”.’
‘And it’s true. I am back. But it’s also something way, way, deeper. It’s bigger than basketball, what I’m talking about. It’s LIFE, right?! I’ve been through some of the darkest time you can image…and yo…I’m still here.’
Wall has career averages of 19.1 points, 9.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 613 NBA games. He was the No. 1 overall pick by the Wizards in the 2010 draft out of Kentucky.
If you or someone you know is in immediate crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 for 24/7 access to a trained counselor. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741741. For more information about ongoing support and mental health resources, contact the HelpLine at the National Alliance on Mental Illness by calling 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.