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Rockets assistant coach John Lucas II says 40 percent of NBA players have mental health issues

John Lucas II

Thanks in most part to Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love and his courage to speak up about his own personal struggles, the issue of mental health has become one of the hottest topics in the NBA today.

Current Houston Rockets assistant coach John Lucas II has chimed in on the discussions. Himself a former victim of drug and alcohol addiction, Lucas is no stranger to mental health problems. This gives his recent claim of how widespread this problem is within the league a lot of credibility.

Speaking to Jackie MacMullan of ESPN, Lucas shared how he believes that nearly half of active NBA players today suffer from some form of mental illness.

“‘Kevin Love is hardly alone.’ Houston Rockets assistant coach John Lucas, a retired NBA player who has struggled with addiction and now runs a wellness aftercare program for athletes, estimates that more than 40 percent of NBA players have mental health issues, yet less than 5 percent of them are seeking help. (Asked if he thought Lucas was overstating the problem, Parham, the players association’s director of mental health and wellness, answered, ‘Not in the least.’)”

Being the first overall pick of the 1967 Draft, Lucas’ full potential was hindered by his addiction to illegal drugs and alcohol. Thankfully, it was not too late for him to get some help, and he was eventually able to make a comeback in the league.

These days, Lucas does his part in trying to address the issue of mental illness. However, he claims that it is a far-reaching problem that may lead to devastating consequences.

“Those issues, Lucas says, can directly lead to alcohol and drug abuse. ‘It’s an epidemic in our league,’ he says. ‘I’m talking about everything from ADHD to bipolar to anxiety and depression.'”

The league has now acknowledged the problem at hand, and this is the first step towards tackling the issue. Hopefully, the association is able to implement the succeeding steps sooner rather than later.