NBA All-Star Opens up About Mental Health Struggles

I began having some deep, dark negative self talk, even suicidal...and I knew something wasn’t quite right.
— James Donaldson

For most of us, it's easy to blend into the crowd. We can step outside and be virtually invisible simply walking down the street. 

My guest on Episode 18, James Donaldson however, does not have that luxury. At 7-Foot 2-inches, when he walks out of the house, he gets the stares, the whispers, and the one question he has faced everyday of his life for the past 40+ years, "do you play basketball?"

As a 14-year NBA veteran, James has played basketball, and he has done it at the highest level, including being selected to the 1988 All-Star team along with a host of iconic players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

Despite being retired for almost 20 years, he cannot hide from his physical stature, not here in the US, nor in China where he has done a lot work as an ambassador for the NBA. 

However he had been hiding in plain sight.

Until now. 


During Thanksgiving of 2017, James was not feeling well. A series of events in his personal life had caused him a lot of stress and pain. Soon they began to take a toll on his mental well-being. 

Since that moment, James' life has never been the same. 

The best news is, he has survived a very dark time where he felt taking his own life was the only way to get through it all.  

He has come to understand his struggles with mental health are not unique to him, thus he is making his whole-self visible to the outside world now in an effort to bring awareness and support to the mental health challenges many young people and athletes are experiencing. 

Episode 18 is a story of success, heartbreak, and the power of healing oneself through helping others. 

*If you need emotional support, thinking of suicide, or are concerned about someone else, please call the hotline below 24/7.


National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255



Cletus Coffey