In mid-December, nearly two years after his first NBA game and just 22 years old, Tyrell Terry announced his retirement. He decided on the 31st pick of the 2020 draft “Leave this sport that has shaped a large part of my identity” after living “Some of the darkest times of my life. So much so that instead of building me up, it started to tear me down.”.
A long message written on Instagram and receiving some support. For example, the father of Tobias Harris and Trae Young later contacted Tyrell Terry.
“If you Google my name, you’ll probably see this ‘former athlete who quit his sport due to mental health issues'” He explains to Sports Illustrated. “But when I read the personal messages that people sent me, when I read that I received phone calls from the parents of athletes who are experiencing these difficulties, I was touched by these kind words and this gratitude. »
How could this young player decide to leave the professional world so early due to anxiety when some NBA stars, Kevin Love or DeMar DeRozan, suffered from similar problems and wanted to continue their careers?
“It wasn’t something I liked anymore. It was more of something I held a grudge against.
First, because his love for basketball waned as he got closer to the NBA world. His natural talent allowed him to reach these heights, but perhaps his aspirations lay elsewhere.
“From a young age, maybe I sacrificed what I wanted from the inside to basketball and to those around me” he says. “I was always the best player, so I didn’t have to deal with team dynamics or whether or not I was in the squad, let alone trying to get playing time. So it was easy for me to go through the steps even though I wasn’t completely into it. »
When choosing a university, Tyrell Terry chose Stanford, driven by the idea of success in his academics as well as his athletic career. In April 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and blocked the whole world, he decided to sign up for the Project to achieve, when he said: “Childhood Dream”.
Except that a health condition postpones the Draft until November 2020, and the player, like his fellow Draftees, finds himself in isolation for months to prepare for this great moment. Something is breaking, and neither the arrival in the NBA nor the first matches will change this trend.
“Even though I knew big things were going to happen, I was really pretty exhausted during the process.” remembers “I no longer see this sport as an art. It wasn’t something I liked anymore. It was more of something I held a grudge against. »
The daily life of a football player in his first season in the league is very painful. Over time, anxiety increases and nausea becomes daily. He can’t go to the gym to work out without emptying himself first. The thought of stomping on the floor sent panic attacks through him. It wakes up “feeling crushed” during that time “It’s hard to breathe”.
“It clicked when I started really wanting to treat myself like a human being”
Inevitably, old Stanford begins “despise the cause in its origin” despite his anxiety and, above all, his tendency to think too much, he cannot find the cause of these crises. “There was a lot of money and attention around me, so I started to wonder why I was bothering. I had no reason to be sad, I didn’t deserve to be unhappy. And I didn’t want to look soft because I was facing the social pressure of being a man. »
After just eleven matches in 2020/2021, Tyrell Terry leaves the group for treatment. The Mavericks are looking for a psychologist to treat him, but the player is skeptical that the specialist will be trusted by the franchise. He thinks the practitioner will push him back to the courts, especially before he deals with his problems. In March 2021, and for several months, he has been taking drugs with more or less positive effects. Tyrell Terry is still not feeling well and using ketamine isn’t going to help him either.
“I wasn’t doing it for myself, I was doing it for the basketball player that I am” analyzes when thinking about this medical work. “I figured if I hit 0/11 it wouldn’t be so bad because nobody would remember. All this did not help me to understand what was happening to me. The click happened when I really started wanting to treat myself like a human. »
Despite his efforts and desire to play again, the nausea and panic attacks never left Tyrell Terry. He would play two matches with Memphis in the 2021/2022 season before being cut last summer. His agent, Dan Poneman, then advises him to travel to the Summer League to keep a few doors open, but the player is reluctant. The NBA and the G-League are not good environments for him and his mind.
Leaving the world of basketball was therefore the best solution. Let’s remember what he will give now to a life that has just started since he was only 22 years old.
He will go back to university and maybe study philosophy there. “The idea that we’re all going to die eventually and that we’re just small people in a big universe is something I want to explore” announces. “And then, basically, going back to Stanford isn’t a bad plan B.”