CLEVELAND, Ohio — On World Mental Health Day, after Kevin Love announced an important donation to UCLA, LeBron James praised his ex-teammate’s strength and openness when it comes to Love’s struggles with panic attacks.
“Kevin Love was one of my favorite guys; one of my brothers,” James said, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “When he acknowledged that (he has suffered panic attacks), I just told him how strong he was — not only for himself, but for other people that are going through the same issues. Not only just athletes, but a lot of kids that look up to him and maybe going through it don’t know how to express things, so I think it’s a pretty cool thing.”
Love opened up to his teammates during the 2017-18 season after suffering a panic attack during a game. In a sit-down interview with Carson Daly on NBC this summer, Love said James inspired him and shared an important message at one point after Love’s revelation.
“It was a special moment for me,” Love said to Daly. “We sat toward the end of the bus. He kind of said, ‘Hey, do you have a moment?’ He stopped me, shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and said, ‘You helped a lot of people today. It’s important.'”
Love also penned a powerful essay titled “Everyone Is Going Through Something,” which appeared on the Player’s Tribune in early March. The piece was aimed at trying to change the stigma around an issue that many people have, including athletes.
James admitted on Wednesday that he can’t walk in Love’s shoes. He hasn’t had those same battles.
“I’ve always had people to talk to and bounce things off,” James said. “They never sugarcoated. And that’s always going back to my childhood. Where I could have slipped into (mental health struggles), being part of a single-parent household, no father, I always had the opportunity to talk to my mom or talk to my two uncles, talk to my friends that were around.
“So I was always able to get things off my chest and not allow things to build up. I don’t know if that’s what causes it, but for me personally, I’ve always had people that were around that I could just, if I ever needed to talk, they was there for me and able to (listen to) whatever it was that I was going through.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Love kicked off World Mental Health Day by donating a yearlong Headspace subscription to all UCLA student-athletes and coaches.
Love reiterated how important it is to train the mind as well as the body and wanted his old school and athletic community to have the tools.
James and Love were teammates for four years, with James reaching out to Love in the summer of 2014 shortly after James announced his decision to return to Cleveland. While the relationship was rocky at times and Love had some tough nights, the two have clearly formed a tight bond — even with James in Los Angeles.
“We won and we bonded and we’re going to continue this brotherhood,” Love said.