Recently, the John Wall Foundation hosted an event at the Salvation Army, where John Wall opened up about how difficult the past few years have been for him. The five-time All-Star has described the past few years as “the darkest place I’ve ever been.”
“At one point, I contemplated suicide,” Wall admitted. “I mean, just tearing up an Achilles, my mother was sick, my mother was dying, my grandmother was going through a year later – all in the midst of COVID at the same time… I’m going to chemotherapy and sitting there, seeing my mom take her last breath, wearing the same clothes for three days streak lying on the couch beside her.My team, my kids’ mom was great, my two kids, that’s my motivator for me. Looking at all of that, I’m like, ‘If I can get through this, I can get through anything in life.'”
“Everyone goes through something, we’ve all been through hard times, and no one has gone easy. But I don’t think a lot of people can get past what I’ve been through. For me, to be back at the top where I want to be and see what the fans are. They still wanted me to play, to have support from my hometown, and their support meant a lot at a time when I had to go look for a therapist.
“A lot of people think, ‘I don’t need help, I can get over it,’ but you gotta be honest with yourself, figure out what’s best for you, and you did it. I’m glad I got this chance to play basketball again. I think every What I went through was part of God’s plan… Although I’ve been in a dark place for the past two years, I’m very excited… to play the game that love.”
This recognition sent shock waves throughout the entire sports world.
I reached out to former Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat, who played with Wall for five seasons, for a discussion about his former teammate.
Ethan Thomas: What were your thoughts when you heard John Wall’s interview detailing everything he’s been through?
Marcin Gortat: “First of all, I was shocked. I didn’t know he was going through so many different issues. I was a witness a couple of years ago while we were teammates and there was a little 6-year-old girl, Mia Tlimak Nelson, who
He was really in touch with him who passed away of cancer. He was raising money for her and doing charity work for her, and I remember the huge impact her death had on him. He literally collapsed during the post-match interview where he dedicated the game to her.”
Thomas: Yes, I remember watching this video. He really took that hard.
Gortat: “Harder than most people know. It was really frustrating for a couple of weeks after that. So when I heard he lost his mother and then his grandmother, I thought again how hard it was to put up with it. [it] When little Mia died. After hearing this previous interview, I felt bad. As a former teammate, I should have supported [him] more. Yes, I texted him a few times while he was in Houston. I knew he was struggling with the situation as much as the team pushed him to the side, so I knew that alone was disastrous for him because I know how much he loves basketball. But associate it with the loss of people close to you, like your mother and grandmother [and that] It just had to be devastating.”
Thomas: He mentioned that he has a positive outlook now and is feeling optimistic about his new position with the Los Angeles Clippers, so it was good to hear that.
Gortat: “Yes, I hope basketball is something that can help him because he seems to be in a much better position with the Clippers so that his mind and emotions are somewhat occupied, but I really hope he heals and gets every bit of support for his recovery.”
Thomas: I definitely agree. One of the things that bothers me is when I hear fans or different people on social media or in the sports media talking about inaccurate rumours. They cast a negative light on an athlete based on these rumors. Stephen A. Smith publicly apologize John for his role in his demonization last season in Houston. I was glad to see him do this because the media really stalked John Wall and influenced public opinion on him in a very ruthless and ill-considered way.
Gortat: “Yes and it’s very unfortunate that this happens a lot in the media these days, but that’s how it is in this league. A lot of people owe an apology to John Wall. I understand that the media has to write or say something on their shows that is controversial and gets a win.” With everyone’s attention because that’s what they’re paid to do. But people who know John know they were unfairly swearing by him. It doesn’t mean he’s perfect, no one is perfect. Did he make mistakes? Yes, but everyone makes mistakes. But he’s not the person they were They portray it to be, and it’s shocking how much it happens.”
Thomas: I debated with David Aldridge and Mark Spears about the power of the media. Mark came out and said he regretted the interview, but I was trying to explain to them the power the media has to sway public opinion, and how the media should be held accountable when they speak recklessly. And they weren’t willing to accept that the media had that kind of power. But this is a prime example. It’s good that Stephen A has apologized publicly, but hopefully that will change the way he and many others in the media target and demonize players because it happens so often. Only here with The Wizards, I saw it happen with Kwame Brown and with Chris Webber after he was traded (back when they were both lead). Really happens way too much.
Gortat: “I definitely agree. So let me say, as someone who has played with John Wall for many years: When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best point guards in the league. The young man is a monster. I don’t know what Houston was doing with him. He was That’s totally ridiculous. Here you have a guy of his caliber and you’re sitting at home? Not even on the bench, but at home? I can’t imagine how he felt during that [an
entire] season? And to have those prominent people in the media denigrate him while he’s going through all this, because he’s dealing with injury after injury and losing loved ones? ”
Thomas: Yes, I don’t care if anyone says there was no cruel or malicious intent behind their reports – that doesn’t mean they weren’t cruel and malicious.
Gortat: “Exactly! A lot of people think athletes are like robots – like video game characters who just perform, which isn’t true. We are human with emotions and go through life’s tragedies and hardships, but we’re still expected to push it all to the side and perform at the highest level every single day. Night.I remember seven or eight years ago when DeMar DeRozan was in Toronto and he was depressed and said he was going to games, but he wasn’t really thinking about games because he was dealing with a lot personally.
“The NBA is getting better at helping players now when they are going through tragedies, but we still have a long way to go. I remember my fourth year and definitely my fifth year playing in Washington – specifically when things weren’t for me and John were the best – there was a lot that I was dealing with And I didn’t have much help. But honestly, that wasn’t a concern. A lot of people wanted me to just perform and push my personal life to the side, and sometimes that’s hard.”
Thomas: “I can certainly attest to that. I lost my grandmother, whom I was really close to, while I was playing with the witches. And I remember our coach, Eric Waters, trying to rush me and I said, ‘Can you give me a minute please?” When I got back, it was That’s when I first got into trouble with Brendan Haywood. Normally, I’d just ignore him throwing tantrums for not having enough time to play, but that day wasn’t the day, so I turned on him. The team actually put up a human barrier and escorted him out of the locker room. Then, everyone — Ernie Grunfeld, Eric Waters, coach Eddie Jordan — was like, ‘What’s wrong? Why are you so upset? And I said, “I told you all I needed a minute!”
Gortat: “Yeah, and my problem with John shaped in a similar way, to be honest – because I was grabbing a lot and suppressing what I was doing and reacting to different things on the court like not getting the ball as much as I wanted or losing matches I felt we should have won. Interesting, I didn’t know that’s what started all of your problems.
“Let me tell you this quick story. I went to Cleveland and I was in this stupid streak of 250 or 280 games or something. [in a row]
Without missing a game, so I’ve been playing like three seasons in a row. Suddenly in December my mother had a stroke. I got the message when I was in Cleveland and was shocked. I broke crying. They found my mother a day and a half later, lying unconscious at home; I found it my friend. So when I got back to the locker room that morning, I was physically there but I wasn’t really there. But John and Brad [Beal] They were the first to say, “Give him some space, let him deal with what’s going on with his family because this is bigger than basketball and he has our support.” So, coach [Randy] Whitman came down and said to me, “Go to Poland, don’t worry about the team right now.”
“And that meant a lot to me. They knew what I was going through. And when you’re so close to a teammate, you feel his pain. And in turn, I know how close John is to his mom. He talked about her all the time. When we finally sat down and crushed our issues, we had” A real kumbaya moment. We talked about all our personal struggles, everything we were dealing with and dealing with. We cleared the air and communicated on another level as teammates, and that was exactly what we needed. So, hearing last week that my colleague was contemplating suicide was devastating Yes, we’ve had our issues in the past, but none of that matters now. I’m a cheerleader for John and I want him to be successful both on and off the field.”
Thomas: I’m glad we had this interview, to get us–two former wizards–to cheer up our brothers. You know, once a wizard, always a wizard. I really want to see it work well too. I was already rooting for him to really have a fresh start with the Clippers and shine like old John Wall, but now I’m rooting for him 1000 times.
Gortat: “I can’t agree with you more! I want to see John demolish every other point in the league. Just go in to a tear. I remember seeing him play every game – Kyrie Irving, Derek Rose, Chris Paul – and people forget how great he was, how fast he ended up, And how explosive it was. Jon was special, and I want to see him come back to that. But more importantly, I want him to heal because he literally went through hell these past years.”