The month of November is Men's Health Awareness Month. ‘The Movember Foundation’ uses November to bring awareness to various men’s physical and mental health issues, as well as support to those tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and more.
Throughout this month, NBC Sports will be releasing numerous videos that feature sports superstars discussing the importance of mental health as well as how they approach the subject. Former NBA star, and former Portland Trail Blazer Channing Frye, was one such athlete that participated in the nationwide project.
Sometimes I’d go sit outside on the porch, play some sad music, kill two bottles of wine, and just cry for hours
- Channing Frye
Channing Frye is a mountain of a man. At seven feet tall and 255lbs, he hardly blends in. That size, coupled with his skills on the court, earned him a long career in the NBA. Fans tend to look at athletes as super-human, but that just isn’t the reality. While Frye was shining in the bright lights on the NBA's biggest stage, he was in a dark space on the inside. As he put it, he was in a fog, a space where nothing made him happy:
When you’re in the league, or you’re a professional player, you really feel immune to a lot of things. But for me at that time, I felt like I just had a weight on my chest. I felt like there was no reason to smile. No reason to get up in the morning.
Frye was dealt a blow at the beginning of the 2016-17 NBA season that left him reeling. The Indians were hosting the Cubs in the World Series when Frye got a call that his mom's health was taking a turn for the worse. He immediately flew to California to be with her, and she passed away shortly thereafter. A few weeks later, Frye got the news that his father had also passed away.
After my mom passed, that was like a swift kick to the nuts. Then, like getting elbow dropped by Macho Man Randy Savage, was when my dad died on Thanksgiving.
This series of events left Frye in that fog he talked about. He struggled to get out to bed, struggled to find motivation, and struggled to smile. But Frye eventually reached a place where he realized he couldn’t continue his downward spiral and needed help to get his mind back on track.
It took a lot for me, not only to have some self-awareness to say you need to get help to stop going in the circle, but to be like, hey, you can’t do this alone.
Frye opened up about his battle with depression and mental health in an article with The Players' Tribune. Mental health never used to be a thing athletes talked about. It was something they bottled up inside, afraid of the stigma associated with going public. But times have changed, and more and more athletes are coming forward because they know they can’t fight the battle alone.
You can hear more from Channing Frye in the video above.