San Antonio Spurs: DeMar DeRozan speaks during espnW: Women + Sports Summit

Aug 7, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs warms up prior to the start of the game against the Utah Jazz at HP Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 7, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs warms up prior to the start of the game against the Utah Jazz at HP Field House. Mandatory Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
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The NBA’s top advocate for mental health, DeMar DeRozan of the San Antonio Spurs spoke during the espnW: Women + Sports Summit.

As the face of mental health advocacy in professional basketball, San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan uses his platform for the betterment of society. His own battles with depression and anxiety have been well-documented over the years. At this point, the Olympic Gold Medalist is using his plight to make others feel better about their own scenarios, as he did during the Mental Health in Sports panel at the espnW: Women + Sports Summit.

DeRozan was one of three panelists along with Professional figure skater & Olympic medalist Gracie Gold and Professional distance runner & NCAA Champion Sarah Spain. During the event, DeMar spoke about his first confrontations with mental health and his journey in coping with issues that have been historically looked down upon by society.

During his conversation, DeRozan made note that he didn’t fully understand the intricacies of mental health early in his life. He felt angry at the world and channeled his energy into sports without addressing what was going on internally.

“You’re really suffering from something that you feel like you can’t say out loud, you don’t want to express to nobody, you don’t want to see like you’re making some kind of excuse. You find any reason not to say something,” DeRozan said.

Excited to be a part of an honest conversation around mental health in sports during today’s #espnWsummit. The event is free…register at https://t.co/8M1wTteRkb pic.twitter.com/kptiw2N1yx

— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) October 20, 2020

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Besides speaking generally, DeRozan gave some great insight into the emotional journey of being a professional athlete and coping with mental health. He alluded to the fact that being a man and part of a team makes it hard to speak openly and freely about these issues. Burying those feelings can sink someone, DeRozan alluded to, and opening up helps to relieve the pain.

In regards to his decision to speak publicly about mental health, DeRozan said he felt like he hit a wall. He turned to social media after feeling like there was nowhere else to turn and to his surprise, there was an outpouring of respect, admiration and consolation.

“We’ve got to treat it like everything else — How we treat our health; the way we eat. The way that we approach life. That’s how important mental health is and it gets pushed under the rug because people don’t want to be vulnerable. People don’t want to feel like they’re less of a person and having these conversations show people how empowering it really is when you speak your story,” DeRozan said.

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Say what you want about DeMar DeRozan the basketball player for the San Antonio Spurs — DeMar DeRozan the man is a noble and courageous one.

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