Former NBA guard Delonte West has had numerous battles with mental health, dating back to his playing days in college at St. Joes in Pennsylvania.
A recent video surfaced over the weekend showing West being assaulted by an unidentified man on the streets of Washington D.C.
Another follow-up video surfaced as well, showing West talking incoherently while sitting on a curb, handcuffed. It is unclear whether or not West is talking to a police officer about the incident or why the conversation is being filmed.
West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008 after a preseason game but his troubles with mental health long proceeded that day. He had been taunted and abused as a child and in a 2015 interview with the Washington Post, West broke down everything that had happened to him, including numerous suicide attempts.
“I am bipolar — just like the rest of us in the world,” he told the Post. “So bipolar is defined as something sad happens, you’re sad. Something happy happens, you’re happy. I think pretty much everyone in the world is like that. Now there’s different levels. How long do you stay sad? How does it affect your behavior? How do you handle these emotions?”
In 2009, just as the Cavaliers were bounced from the NBA Playoffs by the Orlando Magic did the rumors and trouble rear its ugly head again. Rumors that he had a romantic relationship with LeBron James’ mother (West repeatedly denied it), the incident near D.C. when he was arrested for carrying multiple guns in his Can-Am Spyder and a downturn in his career in Dallas.
West eventually turned his life around at that point. He met a woman in Dallas, married her and began a family.
“I took one step back to take a hundred steps forward in life,” he said at the time on a renewed lease on life. “That’s what I needed. I needed time to get over everything. It wasn’t everyone else holding on to what happened in Cleveland — it might’ve just been me. I needed to let that go. I needed to grow up.”
A year after the WaPo piece, photos of West surfaced of him in Houston, shoeless.
Most of the reactions to the recent videos to West in D.C. have been calling for support from the NBA to help him. Since the 2018-19 season when players DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love vocally spoke up about the mental health of athletes, the NBA has dived deeper into assisting players and focusing on being at the forefront of sports leagues regarding the issue.
West’s story, however, may demand more. The 10-year vet last played in the NBA in 2012 and considering how many former teammates and athletes want to see him healthy, the NBA and others may see that their mental health initiative need extend beyond just current players.