You don’t need to be a professional athlete to know just how challenging a period of injury can be. Whether you’re a hobby jogger, sporting enthusiast or simply governed by a daily routine that sees you always hit your gym workout in the morning, an injury can come to derail our lifestyle and for those who come to define themselves by their sporting pursuits, it can even lead to questions of identity and who you are outside of your sport. For those at the elite level, it’s a time of great emotional and mental stress, particularly when rehab can be a lengthy process that is far from linear in terms of progress.
For NBA All-star John Wall, this is something he’s experienced first hand. In a recent interview, the guard who joined the Los Angeles Clippers this summer, expressed just how challenging the last few years have been after he suffered a torn achilles and the deaths of family members at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the past three years, Wall has played just 40 games, a number that reflects the tumultuous seasons he has endured due to injuries, not to mention delays as a result of Covid-19 and Houston Rockets not playing him. At a garden dedication for his late mother hosted at the Salvation Army in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina where his mother had been a volunteer, Wall described just how devastating a time he had experienced.
“Darkest place I’ve ever been in,” the five-time All-star said. “At one point in time, I thought about committing suicide. I mean, just tearing my achilles, my mum being sick, my mum passing, my grandma passed a year later, all this in the midst of Covid and at the same time, me going to [my mother’s] chemotherapy, me sitting by my mum taking her last breaths wearing the same clothes for three days straight laying on the couch beside her.”
Wall’s mother, Frances Pulley, died in December of 2019 at the age of 58 as a result of breast cancer. While Wall was still undergoing rehab for his achilles injury, just a few months later his grandmother also died. “We’re all going through times, nobody’s got it easy, but I don’t think a lot of people could get through what I went through,” said Wall. “And to me to get back on top where I want to be and seeing the fans still want me to play, having the support from my hometown, this important period means a lot.”
Wall credits his teammates for getting him through that dark period, along with the mother of his two children and the sons who also motivate him to be the best person he can be. “I’m looking at all that and I’m like, ‘If I can get through this, I can get through anything in life,’” said Wall.
Now, Wall just wants to be back on the court and showing everyone just what he’s capable of. “You can tell I’m kind of smiling a lot more, all those types of things,” he said. “I get an opportunity to play with two great players and the sky’s the limit.”
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, help and support is available. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or text 0477 131 114 for 24/7 support where you can access confidential one-to-one text with a trained Lifeline crisis supporter.