Kevon Looney was a McDonald's All-American and named Wisconsin's Mr. Basketball as a high school senior. He spent just one season at UCLA before the Warriors took him with the No. 30 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft at only 19 years old.
And then, his life as a basketball star quickly was derailed. Looney had two hip surgeries early in his career and only played in five games as a rookie.
"It was really frustrating," Looney said in a segment during NBC Sports' documentary "HEADSTRONG: Mental Health and Sports." "Coming into the league, you have these dreams that I'm gonna take the league by storm, and my first year I was really just sidelined."
Looney struggled mightily with the mental side of his rehab. Basketball was his passion and a major part of his identity. He says he leaned heavily on his family during the dark times away from a basketball court.
Years later, Looney sees the positive of dealing with adversity. It was through these tough times that he really learned about the importance of having a healthy diet. He always could eat what he wanted and be a great athlete.
He needed to open his ears and make a change.
"That's when I really learned how to be healthy," Looney said. "I really had to learn about my body and how to take care of my body. I had a couple veterans like Andre Iguodala telling me to eat right and do those type of things and I didn't really listen because I'm 19, 20. I gained a bunch of weight when I came back from the injury and really didn't feel right, so I changed up my diet."
Looney lost nearly 30 pounds over six weeks when he made a change to his diet. His minutes continued to increase the past few seasons, and he now is a key player for the Warriors.
The 23-year-old signed a three-year, $15 million contract to remain with the Warriors this past offseason. He currently is on the mend with a neuropathic issue, but should be able to lean on lessons learned from the past to combat the mental gymnastics of being away from basketball.
Looney wants to be a role model for those who are struggling, especially with their weight and diet.
"I'm one of those people where I struggle with changing my diet, and I just want you to know that it's possible," Looney said. "The beginning of it is always hard, but if you stay discipline, you can change your life. You can live longer and be there for your loved ones and you can help people. You can be a walking testament.
"There's a lot of people that struggle with weight and I've been one of those guys, but if you can be discipline, you can take your life to another level."
Looney's struggles through rehab and how he learned how to be healthier will be discussed during Wednesday night's edition of Warriors Pregame Live as well as Warriors Postgame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area before and after Golden State plays the Portland Trail Blazers.
You can watch all of the "HEADSTRONG: Mental Health and Sports" vignettes right here. The full documentary will be playing all month on NBC Sports Bay Area and NBC Sports California.
Check our channel listings page for times and dates.