Over the last several years, more athletes have begun speaking up on the reality of mental health struggles in professional sports. In the NBA, players like Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan have led these discussions, with others following in their footsteps. After a win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night, LA Clippers forward Robert Covington spent the majority of his press conference speaking about his own mental health struggles.
“I like to keep people’s spirits high, because I’ve been at a point where I’ve been frustrated and overwhelmed. That shit takes a toll on you mentally,” Covington said. “At one point, I was ready to walk away from this game just because of all the things I had going on in my head mentally. I’ve really done a lot of groundwork within myself to really find out – just to have fun with it again.”
Because of the mental battles he’s fought, Covington says he now prides himself on being a guy that can bring joy to others. “When guys get down on themselves, I want to be there to speak positivity to them…Them guys know no matter what, I always got their back,” Covington said.
When asked more specifically about when he considered leaving the game of basketball, Covington said, “Three years ago. When I got hurt in Minnesota, that was a tough time for me. I spent a lot of time alone, solitude, and just mentally out of it in a lot of different ways. My family would ask me if I’m okay in different natures, but I really wasn’t.”
Covington said his coach at the time, Ryan Saunders, really helped him during that low point, adding that talking to people and seeking professional help was big in pulling him out of those dark places. “I still have these conversations with people. It’s just about uplifting and doing the little things. Spreading and bringing that energy that I found within myself, and pointing it to others,” Covington said.
Reggie Jackson shared a similar story about the mental place he was in following the 2020 bubble, and while Covington said he and Jackson have not had an opportunity to truly dive into that topic, it is something that RoCo hopes to have an opportunity to do with Reggie. “People don’t understand all the things we go through,” Covington said. “It’s a lot of negativity that comes about it. If you not in the right mental space, man it can eat you.”
Covington finished his message by saying that his lowest point came when he pushed away everyone who was trying to help him, and just sat in solitude and darkness for an extended period of time. What ultimately pulled Covington out of that place, was the advice Ryan Saunders gave him to go see a therapist, which Covington said really helped.
With this message, Robert Covington joins a list of professional athletes who have shared their personal experience with mental health struggles. His story will resonate with many athletes and non-athletes, with teammate Nicolas Batum already co-signing the message.
For the Clippers, they are happy to have Covington for his abilities on the court, but his locker room presence may be even more important with the perspective he shared Tuesday night.